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by Terri Hogan
Senior Staff Writer
When Debi Palmer’s son started attending William H. Farquhar Middle School three years ago, the family’s commute took them down idyllic, rustic Batchellors Forest Road.
Since then, new houses have been built, others are under construction, the new Farquhar school was built and the old school was torn down.
That created a perfect storm of increased traffic — from residents old and new, construction vehicles, and students, parents and staff of Farquhar, Washington Christian Academy and Our Lady of Good Counsel High School.
“It is very dangerous,” Palmer said. “I’ve been behind school buses having stand-offs with trucks and I have seen a school bus, full of kids, at a slant trying to get around a truck. There’s just not enough room.”
The Southeast Rural Olney Civic Association (SEROCA) also voiced concerns about safety, as well as damage caused by the trucks, and Joel Beidleman, principal of Farquhar Middle School, said he received numerous emails from families concerned about the truck traffic.
“I drive the road every day, and I personally had concerns for our teachers, students and parents,” Beidleman said.
Palmer said she was “relentless,” contacting the county’s Department of Transportation and also filing a report with Montgomery County Police. Still, nothing changed.
She finally took matters in her own hands and tracked town Stuart Terl, project manager for Toll Brothers’ Trotters Glen development, where 65 homes are being built at the site of the former golf course.
In the meantime, SEROCCA also reached out to Toll Brothers, as did Beidleman.
After listening to the concerns, Toll Brothers has agreed to halt trucks from using Batchellors Forest Road during the peak hours of school traffic.
The trucks can now be seen in the mornings lined up near Norbeck Memorial Park waiting until 8:15 before traveling down Batchellors Forest Road.
“We are just trying to do our best to be a good neighbor,” said Tom Mateya, director of land development for Toll Brothers. “Halting truck traffic has a cost associated with it, but responding to the concerns of the community was more important to Toll Brothers.”
Palmer was so happy that she recently delivered doughnuts and coffee to the waiting truck drivers.
“You can’t believe what a relief it has been to travel on that road without the trucks,” she said.
Janice Snee, SEROCA president, said the civic association was pleased that Toll Brothers accommodated its requested and adjusted delivery schedule.
“However, Batchellors Forest residents and the SEROCA community continue to look to parents of Farquhar Middle School, Washington Christian Academy and Good Counsel High School to mitigate the substantial traffic generated by parents of all schools, to include taking sustainable transportation initiatives, such as carpooling, and using alternate routes,” she said.
Snee said SEROCA also recommends that Montgomery County’s Community Use of Public Facilities direct all after-school and ballfield traffic via Dr. Bird Road due to excessively high traffic generated on Batchellors Forest Road for special events.
Terri Hogan can be reached at email@example.com.
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