With thousands of kids returning to school today, residents and commuters can expect a significant increase in traffic throughout the Lake Norman area.
One of the bigger concerns of the Cornelius Police Department is the rise in traffic along Bailey Road, which leads to the new Hough High School.
Lt. David Baucom with the Cornelius Police Department said there will be an increased police presence at the school to help with traffic issues as well as to assist with parking, but the department's traffic safety unit also will monitor roads around the school for any problems and traffic violators.
"The biggest thing we're going to focus on is the new high school," said Baucom. "We'll provide extra staff to assist with students and traffic because it's a brand-new school. We'll be there as long as we're needed to make sure traffic flow is safe, but if it takes everyone more than a week to get all the traffic patterns figured out, I'd be surprised. The other schools have been here for years, and we kind of know the routine of the traffic flow, so we're not anticipating any major problems at the other schools."
Hough High's morning bell is at 7:15 a.m., so increased traffic is expected from about 6:45 a.m. to 9 a.m. Bailey Middle School, near Hough, starts at 8:45 a.m. and also will add to the traffic. The school's afternoon peak traffic hours will be from about 2-4 p.m.
Baucom's advice is to avoid Bailey Road altogether, he said, as well as roads around the new high school, if possible. He also advised using N.C. 115 as an alternate route to N.C. 73.
"Allow extra time for your commute and expect heavier than normal traffic," said Baucom. "Safety is of course paramount. People also should watch out for people walking to and from bus stops and the schools in our town. And we encourage parents, especially those with younger kids, to not leave their kids alone at a bus stop."
Lt. Barry Graham with the Huntersville Police Department said his department also will have an increased presence for the back-to-school transition, but only for the first three days. School resource officers and the department's traffic team will monitor traffic issues after that.
North Mecklenburg and Hopewell high school start at 7:15 a.m., so people can expect increased traffic on those area roads around that time, but it should be relatively cleared out by 7:30 a.m., said Graham.
The main roads affected will be Beatties Ford Road and Hambright for Hopewell and Old Statesville Road and Alexanderana Road for N. Meck.
"Generally by three or four days, people get it down," said Graham.
"If you're going south, generally Mount Holly-Huntersville road is a good alternate, but generally it's not a big deal. People should plan on adding maybe 10 minutes to their drive time the first couple weeks."
The fact that there's more traffic on the roads - and new, young drivers - causes everything to back up everywhere and that can create more road rage, especially during the start of the school season.
"Our numbers are reduced a little and that might relieve traffic, but there'll be increased traffic in Cornelius, so be prepared no matter where they live," said Graham.
"Please just be patient and watch out for the children."