INDIAN LAND, S.C. — Three days into the new school year, some parents in Indian Land are frustrated.
They said that when they drop off and pick up their kids is a nightmare and even kids who ride the bus are getting home late.
The congestion is focused on one area where roughly 4,000 students go to school. Indian Land High, Middle and Elementary schools are all in one small area.
Deanna Tuttle picks up her two grandkids from school.
"You can't get into the school, period, at all," she said.
The intersections at Collins Road on one side of Highway 521 and River Road on the other side are so backed up that traffic often doesn't move at all.
"It's a nightmare," Tuttle said. "I sat through that light for six changes before I turned around and parked in the QT."
Her grandkids now walk across Highway 521 to meet her at the gas station. Channel 9 watched dozens of other students doing the same Wednesday afternoon.
The Lancaster School District posted pictures of the backups Tuesday on Facebook and warned parents about gridlock. School buses are caught in the middle of the congestion, as well.
Buses that run double routes drop off elementary students, and bus drivers can't get back to the school to pick up older students.
Bryan Vaughn, who is the transportation director for the Lancaster School District, hears from frustrated bus drivers, as well.
"We've literally had drivers say, ‘We can see the entrance to the school, but it takes us 25 minutes to go a mile,'" he said. "It's just a lot of traffic in a very small area. It all comes down to 521."
On Wednesday morning, Lancaster School District officials met with the South Carolina Department of Transportation to talk about solutions.
They asked about more signage and requested that left turn signals last longer to relieve traffic.
Near Indian Land schools, green traffic signals can be 15 seconds or shorter near the schools and few vehicles make it across intersections during peak hours.
The side street, Collins Road, doesn't have a left-turn arrow.
It flashes yellow, and there's rarely a chance to make a left turn in front of oncoming traffic.
The district is still working with SCDOT on the best way to handle the problem.
Lancaster School District officials said by Labor Day, they'll begin looking at problem areas, tweaking bus routes and focusing on transportation concerns.
By then, classes will have already been in session for several weeks, and officials will know what the long-term solution will be.
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