The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

Dwindling Student Parking

Chinquapin+Circle+is+often+extremly+crowded%2C+even+half+an+hour+beofre+school+begins
Chinquapin Circle is often extremly crowded, even half an hour beofre school begins

Shortage is Increasingly Apparent Each Year

Tessa Bowman

With a growing student body of nearly 4,000, the 175 official student parking spaces offered in Chinquapin circle this year barely hold up. The parking passes that allow students to park in the circle are property of the City of Alexandria, not of T.C. Williams, and cost $120 for the school year. Although alternative transportation services are available for students such as the public buses provided by the school and DASH bus fare at no cost for students, many students still drive in their personal vehicles. Paid parking permits in the circle were introduced for the first time last school year, and since then parking opportunities for student drivers have been dwindling.

Those who drive themselves may do so for a number of reasons. Students may prefer driving due to its convenience for them, as it may shorten their commute or work more efficiently with their schedule. Those who work directly after school may choose to drive in order to get to their jobs on time.

Public transportation works for many people, but it does not work for everyone. Public transportation can create strict schedules and times students must adhere to, so those who stay after due to sports or school activities may find it easier to be their own transportation. Finally, school buses are not sent out to students within a 2-mile radius of the school, so students who do not walk may choose to drive.

Last year student parking in the garage has been cut. Now the garage has been changed to faculty-only this year, and the Chinquapin circle is now student-only. Even with faculty out of the circle, the extra spaces now available to students is still not sufficient.

The senior and junior classes are old enough to drive, with sophomore students able to in the second semester. With roughly half of the school’s population driving, only 175 student spaces is insufficient. This year, the spaces are not available to junior and sophomore drivers. A lottery held by the school will distribute spaces, but only the senior class is eligible. Any remaining spaces after the lottery would be passed off to juniors, but that is not going to happen. It is already highly unlikely that every senior who entered into the lottery will get a parking pass. Therefore juniors who drive themselves will be left with no options when it comes to parking provided by the school or city.

As the circle and the garage have been limited access and paid parking, student drivers found additional and free parking on residential streets near-by to the main campus.

Scroggins Road, which is parallel to King Street, was used – but not abused – by students. During school hours, the road would be filled with cars, but by 4 o’clock the street was empty. However, parking on half of this road was also taken away at the end of last school year. 2 hour parking restriction signs were put up on the 2100 and 2200 blocks, prohibiting parking from 8AM to 5PM on weekdays; an act which specifically targeted T.C. students.

On April 2018, during a Traffic and Parking Board public hearing,  one Scroggins resident “indicated that students from T.C. Williams High School were parking on Scroggins,” and “confirmed that [the west end of Scroggins] met the requirements for residential permit parking restrictions,” according to the official hearing docket. This essentially boils down to that too many students were on the street, which was most likely crowding and irritating. Because Scroggins is a residential road, parking restriction signs can be placed to keep out non-residents.

The Traffic and Parking Board expressed concerns that T.C. had already limited parking for students and that the parking restrictions would merely push the parking problem into other streets. Despite the logical concerns conveyed by the Board, the motion passed unanimously.

Although any resident has the right to be irritated and protest a bunch of cars parking on their street, those who live so close to a school – especially the biggest public high school in the city – should know that there will be a lot of students around. There will be a lot of traffic, a lot of transportation, a lot of whatever it takes to make a school efficiently run. They have any right to not want crowds, but to expel students from the already limited parking feels unnecessary.

The parking problem is only going to get worse. Why? The student body is growing, and that means more teachers will eventually be needed to instruct them. Alexandria is already limited on space, so no other parking lots or garages can be built in the space surrounding the King Street campus. The only logical and short term solution is to open neighboring streets, maybe even King Street itself, for student parking. This should not be a burden to homeowners, as most of these houses have driveways, and King street is large enough to accommodate both parking and driving – even opening up one side would benefit this problem.

The ever-growing student population and the parking problem it has created will only get worse. If T.C.’s student growth continues at its current rate, then even additional residential parking will, in the future, not be enough. To solve the student growth problem is to solve the parking problem, and the only way to accommodate the increasing number of students is to ultimately build a second high school.

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Dwindling Student Parking