Traffic swarms new parking lot


Johanna Wen

Cars file into the concrete garage at 8 in the morning and students walk toward the entrances of the school building. The Maple St. side of the building is still slightly under construction.

Driving to school in their cars as early as 8 a.m., students are met with a seemingly never-ending line. Each side of Maple Street is filled with parents dropping off their children near the entrances and buses trying to enter the school’s bus lane. Adding to the existing traffic is a recently installed parking garage for seniors and faculty. It’s decked out with four floors, 600 parking spaces and an entrance on Maple with an exit on South Rice.
“I’m really glad to have the garage this year just because parking last year was really hard,” senior Renee Navarro said. “Bellaire doesn’t have a lot of street parking and for the places where there is street parking, it’s all permitted. There were very few spaces where I could park last year, so having a parking garage is nice.”

In mid-September, a poll was posted to Instagram asking how easy or hard it was to use the garage as well as some concerns students may have. Students largely supported the garage’s ease of use. (Johanna Wen)

Teacher Sandra Wallace said that despite the benefits of the parking garage, she was a bit skeptical about there not being teacher-assigned parking and student drivers.
“I will say I’m a little concerned when I heard that there would not be a separation of faculty on these floors because students are newer to driving,” Wallace said. “They’re less experienced, they don’t have as much practice going slow, turning corners in parking garages and looking out to make sure another car is not coming or parking in spots close to people. I haven’t had any issues so far, but I have had my car hit by a student driver in the parking lot before when we were in the old building.”
A concern of some students is also simply entering the garage.
“My friend and I tend to sit behind parents’ cars on Maple St. who feel the need to drive their kid directly up to the school when the kid could easily walk a few more feet,” senior Keira Bannerman said.
The school administration has decided to use EZ tags to keep track of students and teachers that come in and out of the parking facility. An EZ tag is an electronic device in Houston that allows people to pay their tolls without having to stop at the toll booth.
“Parents are pulling into the garage before school lets out to cheat waiting in line and picking up their kids,” teacher Coleen Heughan said. “It’s adding additional cars into the garage that aren’t supposed to be there and it’s making it harder for people to clear out. Hopefully, that will get better once the parking gate arms work with the EZ tags.”
However, the additional cars from parents using the parking garage hasn’t been the only issue.

“I got hit by a parent the other day, they just rolled and hit my car,” senior Desirae Pollard said. “We were at a complete stop, there was no damage, so I went, ‘whatever.’”

The new parking garage for seniors and faculty is built with four floors, 600 parking spaces, and an entrance on Maple with an exit on South Rice. Along with the new features is the increased traffic made up of bus and parent drop off on top of students entering the garage. (Emily Vaughan)

Although some of the problems have occurred due to parents, student drivers also hold some of the blame for difficulties during dismissal.
“Later that same day in the parking lot, this guy didn’t back out correctly because he was nervous about holding up a huge line while he was dragging out,” Pollard said. “Then when he went back forward, he didn’t turn enough and he dented the back of my friend Christine’s car.”
Despite the many stresses related to the new garage, Navarro is grateful for the new parking garage which she finds much more efficient.
“It’s definitely a lot easier getting to school and being able to find a spot,” Navarro said. “I don’t have to leave as early anymore to find parking. It makes my whole morning routine a little bit calmer.”