More than $3 million of work has begun to alleviate school parking and traffic woes  on Thornton Road at Monroe County Middle and T.G. Scott Elementary schools.

Sellers Construction has begun a $2.1 million project to add parking and new driveways to the Banks Stephens campus, and is expected to be done before school re-opens on Aug. 2. Meanwhile, Monroe County has begun a $288,000 project to add a lane to Thornton Road in front of the schools to ease traffic.

Monroe County Schools chose Sellars out of three companies who bid on the parking lot/driveway project. Appling Brothers submitted a bid of $2,476,856, and East Coast bid $2,692,510 on the project. 

Onstott recommended accepting the bid from Sellers Construction Company of Gordon and said the company did the additional paving on the side of the Fine Arts Center and had been a good company to work with on that project. He said that Don Carter, civil engineer who has worked with Monroe County Schools on many projects, reviewed the bids. 

Onstott said the county will create a third lane and a turn lane on Thornton Drive so that it tapers in with a queuing lane at the Banks Stephens campus so that traffic is not backed up out onto the public roads. The work should improve the traffic congestion which increased when sixth grade students were moved to the Banks Stephens campus, which already served seventh and eighth grade, at the start of the 2018-19 school year. 

Work in front of Monroe County Middle School will create 47 parking spaces. Onstott said the back lot is 24-25 years old and some of the pavement has disintegrated. The project will build this lot back up. Assistant Superintendent Jackson Daniel said the project is included in the SPLOST which has been bonded; so funds are available. The project started on May 1 with work that could be done before school was out for summer vacation. Carter said the contract calls for Sellers to finish before teachers return to school, which is July 29. 

Daniel said that the county’s work on Thornton Road and Charles Way will be done at the same time as the work on campus. The county will widen Thornton Road. Superintendent Dr. Mike Hickman thanked county commissioners for working with the school system to improve the traffic issue at the Banks Stephens campus, which also affects the T.G. Scott Elementary campus next door. He especially thanked Commissioner Eddie Rowland, whose district includes the Banks Stephens campus,  for working with the school system. 

Phase 2 of work on the Bank Stephens campus is planned for the summer of 2020. It will be adding additional classrooms and expanding the cafeteria to accommodate the sixth grade and projected growth at the middle school.