Leawood looks for solutions to daily traffic jams on Mission Road caused by Curé of Ars school dismissal

Cure of Ars traffic

Curé of Ars Catholic School's daily afternoon dismissal creates traffic issues along Mission Road and the surrounding neighborhoods. Above, an aerial view of the school shows a line of cars snaking through the school's parking lot and out onto Mission Road. Image via Leawood Public Works Committee.

When Curé of Ars Catholic School in Leawood lets their students out at the end of each school day, the event is hard to miss.

The school, which has over 700 kids who attend daily, sits along Mission Road, just south of 93rd Street.

The large student population, coupled with the fact that the surrounding area has many businesses and residential subdivisions, often makes it hard for the school to keep the end-of-day traffic contained within its own parking lot.

The result: often times a long line of cars filled with waiting parents backs up onto Mission, causing standstill traffic along the busy roadway.

It’s become such an issue that Leawood’s Public Works Committee used its usual Wednesday meeting this week to brainstorm solutions for the problem.

Committee discussion

Committee members pointed out that the daily congestion is exacerbated by the fact that cars going to the school cannot fully move into the school’s parking lot until five minutes before the school lets out.

That is a safety issue. The location where parents pick their students up passes by the school’s playground, where kids are still playing outside up until that five-minute mark.

Councilmember Jim Rawlings said perhaps the best way to avoid the backup on Mission is simply to not allow kids on the playground even ten minutes earlier.

“That is a resolution that we definitely can explore that would be easy for us to implement,” Curé of Ars principal Andrew Legler told the committee Wednesday.

The committee also recommended possibly staggering student release times based, so traffic does not back up all at once.

“It looks like your flow is pretty good, but it’s the quantity that you’re trying to manage at one time,” Councilmember Tim Rollins said.

Legler said though the idea of staggering pickup times was a good idea, it could cause some potential complications.

For instance, he said, it would be difficult for a parent who has multiple kids released at different times.

In addition to the backup on Mission, some neighbors in the surrounding have also expressed concerns that their streets roads get used as more places for parents to park and wait for their kids to get out.

Residents along 93rd Street, particularly, say they have experienced heavy traffic on school days.

“I feel like they have pushed the problem onto neighbors who have had no say in any this,” Gwenn Venable, whose house sits along 93rd Street, told the committee.

After hearing the committee’s recommendations, Curé of Ars officials said they will work to form new solutions that will aim to alleviate both the traffic on Mission and nearby subdivisions.

The issue is set to be addressed again at Public Works meeting early next year.