Late school start times, flex­i­ble work sched­ules could help rush-hour crunch

Orlando Sentinel (Sunday) - - OPINION - By Nancy Jenk­ins Wise My Word colum­nist Nancy Jenk­ins Wise lives in Cas­sel­berry.

My 8 a.m. ad­ven­ture in traf­fic this morn­ing, an ap­point­ment that routed me on High­way 17-92 in the Mait­land area, started me think­ing. “What might help the poor com­muters stuck in this bed­lam ev­ery day?” I pon­dered as I sat through two long left-turn cy­cles.

Heck, I do my part 99 per­cent of the days. I stay at home un­til after 9:30 a.m. I’m re­tired, have that op­tion, and do it to keep one car off the road but self­ishly to avoid the fran­tic con­ges­tion.

Has any­one of­fered a plan of scat­ter­ing start and end times for busi­nesses? Wait, don’t throw up your hands and say “crazed.” Yes, it presents a chal­lenge to par­ents with kids in day­care or those pick­ing up high school stu­dents. I know. I did it. So, sup­pose, as an ex­am­ple, just one-third of the driv­ers begin work at 10 a.m. and leave at 7 p.m. and day­care cen­ters are re­warded fi­nan­cially for flex­ing hours? This could mean one of three cars not sit­ting at the left turn ar­row in front of you in the fu­ture. Imag­ine. Busi­nesses can’t be that swamped at 9 a.m. Ev­ery­one is parked on I-4! How many em­ploy­ees are re­ally needed at that hour?

An­other idea used in larger metropoli­tan areas, and we are one now, is the use of Me­tered Ramps. These are small traf­fic lights posted at en­trance ramps to larger high­ways that con­trol the eas­ing of traf­fic into the flow. They keep spac­ing at a safer pace along roads such as our I-4.

Metro­plan, our trans­porta­tion plan­ning or­ga­ni­za­tion, has a plan for Cen­tral Florida. But I’d like to see some cur­rent in­no­va­tion added to the mix. We are fa­mil­iar with the steps of our SunRail ex­pan­sion, adding more con­nec­tor buses, in­creas­ing bi­cy­cle routes, and trains con­nect­ing to the air­port.

Teresa Ja­cobs, Or­ange County School Board Chair, has an­other item on her plate that re­lates to high school start times and will im­pact our road­ways as well. She would be a key player, as for­mer mayor of Or­ange County, to pull some of these ideas to­gether. Ja­cobs now man­ages the 9th largest school dis­trict in the United States, with over 200,000 stu­dents. Not only do we need to take care in flex­ing schools, teach­ers, stu­dents and buses, we need to flex other busi­nesses as well. Cen­tral Florida is a ma­jor metropoli­tan area. Let’s get our heads to­gether and fix this.

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