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Emergency responders weigh in on access to new East Elementary School in Columbia

Emergency responders are weighing in on access proposals at the site of the new East Elementary School in Columbia.

ABC 17 News has reported the last several weeks that residents in nearby neighborhoods have expressed safety and traffic concerns following a CPS proposal.

This comes as CPS is working on a second possible proposal.

The original proposal would make the main entrance to the school through the Vineyards neighborhood and the second entrance would connect the Vineyards to the Woodlands neighborhood.

The second possible proposal would make both entrances off Rolling Hills.

The Columbia Fire Department said while driving through subdivisions to get to any emergencies at a school is not ideal, both proposal are within city code.

“The requirement was for two means of egress,” said Assistant Chief Brad Fraizer. “Ingress and egress, two ways in and out and that initial plan did meet that requirement.”

He said his department signed off on the original plan when it was first presented to them.

“If we could avoid a subdivision to travel to a school, we would prefer that, but the code’s very clear that it needs to be two ways in and out,” Fraizer said. “It doesn’t say and we don’t dictate that it can’t go through a subdivision.”

On Friday, CPS released a rough draft showing a second possible proposal that may be an option.

The drawing has not been presented to the Planning and Zoning Commission and CPS is still working to see if the cost is doable and if the proposal falls within city requirements.

Fraizer said based on the rough draft, the second option would be more ideal.

“We like having access off of a main road like Rolling Hills,” he said. “It’s preferable, but not required.”

Fraizer said although the first proposal meets code, going through neighborhoods to access the school could mean slightly slower response times.

“It does slow things down a bit,” he said. “We want to be real careful going through neighborhoods for obvious reasons and it would slow things down.”

A proposal was scheduled for a vote Thursday at the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting after it was tabled at the last meeting.

But CPS has requested the vote be tabled again to the next meeting later this month as it continues to work with engineers to come up with a cost effective proposal that benefits everyone.

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