Road Work Ahead


Students drive to school blaring music with their windows down preparing for the first day, only to be interrupted by a detour road sign. On Monday, Aug. 12, construction started outside the school, closing Quivira road from 175th to 179th. Though it’s a small stretch, it contains two important school entrances and exits.

“I found out about the plans at the end of April last year. And my reaction was, ‘Wow, what are we going to do now?’” principal Scott Roberts said.

Plans for construction took Roberts off guard, but it didn’t stop him from finding a way to work around the issue. He said his plans have allowed it to be the least inconvenient it can be.

“We talked to the traffic engineers in Overland Park,” Roberts said. “We talked among people in the school district, our director of safety and security, several people in operations and the planning department, so we spent a lot of time thinking about this. It actually took until the end of the summer.”

Students were informed of the construction plans in May 2019. Sophomore Ali Fabrizius said it is frustrating.

“I didn’t know why they wouldn’t work on it during summer instead of during the school year,” Fabrizius said. “It’s a lot more difficult for all the students and everybody now. Summer would have been a lot easier.”

Fabrizius said she feels cramped and traffic is worse because she is having to go different routes around the school.

“I have to wake up a little earlier and make sure I leave the house at a certain time and don’t catch all the traffic when leaving my neighborhood,” Fabrizius said.

Roberts said the project was out of the school’s control and they had no say in the start date, because it is the city’s project. The school is only able to work around the issue.

“I really wish we could have started back in May, they could have had two months on this project,” Roberts said. “We would have been done in [another] three months. Starting [in May] would have been a lot better, but it’s out of our control.”

Freshman Paige Walton said with after school activities, the construction can be even more of a hassle.

“If you need to get somewhere after school, it’s just a lot harder,” Walton said. “If you run to the car, I feel like you can get out really fast, but if not, then it can take anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes.”

Not only do students like Walton have to change their afternoon schedules, but junior Ben Kudrna had to change his morning schedule as well.

“The first day I left at like 7:15,” Kudrna said. “And did not walk into the school until 8:05 because of the traffic.”

Kudrna said there is a very small window of time students have to get out to their cars in order to beat the afternoon traffic.

“After seventh hour, instead of staying back and waiting for my friends, I try to get out to my car and leave, then just meet up with them later once I’m out of the traffic,” Kudrna said. “That way I am not at school until like 3:30.”

Roberts said he’s aware it can take anywhere from 10 to 25 extra minutes to get to school in the morning because it is impossible to get so many cars in and out of one exit.

“Because the vast majority of students don’t like to be late and they hate sitting in traffic, they’d rather come a little early, and so they’ve made that adjustment,” Roberts said.

Roberts said there were litigations that caused the original construction start date — May 25 — to be pushed back.

“Starting the Monday before school started would have been the least opportune time to start this,” Roberts said.

The current project is expected to be completed by Jan. 1, after which students will have access to the two entrances on Quivira. However, the four way stop at Quivira and 175th will then be closed as construction workers install a roundabout.

“When the roundabout comes in, that’s a whole new thing,” Roberts said. “I’m concerned about how student drivers are going to approach that.”

When compared to Blue Valley High, Kudrna said roundabouts flow pretty well and he is just going to have to see what happens at Southwest.

“It’s probably going to be pretty chaotic at the start just because it’s a bunch of high school drivers in a roundabout trying to get to school,” Kudrna said. “But I think just like the traffic now, once they figure it out, it’s going to be a lot better.”

Roberts said he believes the longterm effect of the roundabout and widening Quivira is going to make a huge difference for traffic and traffic safety. However, Fabrizius said she is concerned for the safety of herself and new drivers.

“It makes everything harder,” Fabrizius said. “Especially with freshmen who are just now starting to drive and they don’t know as much as older people who are driving … and possibly could cause a crash.”

Roberts said safety is at the forefront as the construction continues.

“My concerns were always about safety. Could we safely get everyone — using one two-lane road — in and off of campus?” Roberts said. “And after the first day, I feel like that is happening. Part of it is because we’ve got great kids and a really cool community and kids actually stop to let other students enter. You don’t get that everywhere. So we’re blessed to have that. You guys are really cool kids.”