Pontotoc City School students returned to classes at all five campuses last Friday and with the ongoing coronavirus the streets in Pontotoc are more heavily congested than usual with car riders.
Pontotoc Police Chief Randy Tutor has issued a special traffic directive for parents who deliver and pick-up kids at Pontotoc Elementary School on Dowdy Street.
The special traffic directive pertains to school traffic which is eastbound on Reynolds Street and turns northward onto Dowdy Street.
Chief Tutor explained that access to Dowdy Street off of Reynolds Street will be different to morning traffic than it will be to afternoon traffic.
“In the mornings, eastbound traffic on Reynolds Street will be allowed to turn directly onto Dowdy Street,” Tutor said. “In the afternoons, eastbound traffic on Reynolds Street will not be allowed to turn directly onto Dowdy Street because we have to stack the traffic five wide headed northward up Dowdy Street towards the school.”
“The afternoon eastbound traffic on Reynolds will need to pass by the Dowdy Street entrance and turn into the curved Dowdy Street entrance which is used by westbound cars turning onto Dowdy Street. There may be times in the afternoon where vehicles have to almost made a U-turn to get lined up and headed north onto Dowdy Street.”
“We will have police officers there morning and afternoons directing traffic. Just slow down and do as officers direct you.”
“In the mornings the traffic is more spread out and eastbound cars can turn directly onto Dowdy, but in the afternoons that won’t work because of the congestion and car stacking we have to do. Just be patient and follow directions.”
Tutor also emphasized that ALL car traffic exiting Dowdy Street onto Reynolds Street must turn RIGHT in the mornings and afternoons.
"All cars must turn right and head west," Tutor stressed. "School buses are the only vehicles allowed to turn left onto Reynolds Street (off of Dowdy Street). A car driver can't turn left just because the bus in front of them does."
"Cars that need to head back eastward can turn onto Inzer and hit Oxford Street to go back east, or they can turn onto Hunt Street and hit Coffee Street to go east."
"Obviously every year there's new folks going to and from the elementary school for the first time and we'll have officers out there and there's a sign on Dowdy directing all cars to turn right onto Reynolds Street."
Chief Tutor also noted that the NORTH entrance of Fred Dowdy Street will be blocked off to all traffic, and that includes teachers, at 7 a.m. every morning.
Chief Tutor noted that the three main traffic congestion areas each day are Main Street along the high school and junior high school, Reynolds Street and Dowdy Street by the elementary school and Oxford Street onto McMakin Street by the middle school.
"The first few weeks of schools are especially hectic traffic wise and most importantly we need parents and students to leave early and allow extra time until everyone gets into their routine," Tutor urged.
"Reynolds Street, Main and Oxford Streets are simply going to be really crowded and backed up during early morning and afternoons. We're going to have extra manpower on duty helping direct folks."
"Most importantly, we need everyone to allow lots of extra time, drive slow, be patient, pay attention to the road while driving and obey officers who are directing traffic."
"All those things will help prevent accidents and help keep someone from getting injured."
"We understand that parents will be accompanying lots of kindergarten kids, especially that first week or so," Tutor noted. "Parents can park along the side of Dowdy Street and over in the Piggly Wiggly parking lot. We will have officers there helping folks across the street."
"But at all times the southbound lane on Dowdy Street can't be blocked. The buses have to get out."
Tutor said the traffic entrances and exits for D.T. Cox Elementary, Pontotoc Junior High and Pontotoc Middle School are the same as last year.
Motorists are reminded that the speed limit in town is 30 mph (unless otherwise marked), but slower speed limits in school zones are posted.
"In the mornings and afternoons all Oxford Street drivers need to obey the school zone speed because that center turn lane off of Oxford Street onto McMakin backs up while folks are unloading and loading kids there at the middle school. And all those cars have to come out onto Clay Street which runs by the baseball field."
"It's simple, everyone needs to slow way down, because we don't want a child to get run over. And if at all possible other drivers need to avoid the school areas in the mornings and afternoons."
Tutor also warned drivers that it's against the law to pass a stopped school bus.
"We're going to prosecute drivers who pass a stopped school bus," he said.
Tutor said that pedestrians and drivers need to exercise extreme caution at the two crosswalks on North Main Street.
“The crosswalk officer is in charge and traffic and walkers are to obey his or her commands. Teachers direct school buses out onto Main Street in the afternoons and drivers need to be attentive and watch for them."