BERNARDS TOWNSHIP, NJ - Work was under way even over the weekend to complete installation of a new two-way driveway into and out of Ridge High School on South Finley Avenue in time for the first day of school on Thursday, Sept. 4.

The repaving of the Liberty Corner School parking lot and the renovation of the foods room at William Annin Middle School also are due to be finished before then, said Schools Superintendent Nick Markarian.

The project to create a second entrance and exit into Ridge, following a professional consultant's study and much discussion about multiple proposals for traffic plans, is designed to alleviate morning traffic jams at the high school at 268 S. Finley Ave. The wider driveway runs alongside the Bernards Township Health Department, and replaces a previous driveway that allowed school traffic to exit only onto South Finley Avenue on school mornings.

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The base cost of the contract for the job was $239,000, school officials said on Monday night.

Markarian also added on Monday that he expects paving to be finished for the Ridge project by the end of the week. 

No more Ridge buses at Cedar Hill School

Main access to Ridge High School is at a traffic light at the intersection of Lake Road and South Finley Avenue. School buses will access the new entrance. School buses will not long drop Ridge students off in the morning at the adjoining Cedar Hill School, a plan in place for more than a year that drew protests from the neighbors who lived around that elementary school.

The new driveway at Ridge brings with it a new traffic pattern, according to an email from Bernards Township Superintendent Nick Markarian sent last Friday to parents of high school students.

Markarian referred parents to an Aug. 15 email sent out by Ridge Principal Frank Howlett that advises students, staff and parents how to enter and exit the high school under a revised traffic pattern.

Between 7 and 7:45 a.m. on school days, Ridge students and faculty who have parking permits for lots C or D must enter through the new entrance adjacent to the Health Department by right turn only, Howlett says in the letter, which also includes a map of the campus parking lots and driveways. Only drivers with parking permits for lots C and D will be allowed in that entrance, but school buses also will be using the new entrance, Howlett's letter says.

The new entrance should not be used as an alternative drop-off, Howlett said. Only buses will be allowed to exit from the C and D lots during this time.

Cars arriving from the north on Finley Avenue will not be allowed to make a lefthand turn into the new entrance adjacent to the Health Department at any time, the school principal said.

Staff and students who have Lot A or B permits must enter through the Lake Road entrance, Howlett said. Those drivers will not be access to the C or D lots from the oval from 7 to 7:45 a.m. However, lots C and D are accessible from the oval prior to 7 a.m., he said.

Parents dropping off students should enter through main Lake Road entrance

All vehicles dropping off students must enter through the Lake Road entrance and pull up as far as possible in the front of the building, Howlett said. Parents are asked to prepare to have students exit vehicles in a timely fashion, he added.

"Please follow the directions of the traffic supervisors," Howlett said.

The principal added that school officials "strongly discourage" students who have driving permits, but not licenses, from driving to school.

Vehicles exiting traffic oval during dismissals will not be able to head north on South Finley, plans subject to fine-tuning

The plans outlined during the summer are subject to adjustments as needed in order to maximize the safety and efficiency of the new traffic pattern at Ridge, according to the principal.

Howlett's email said that vehicles exiting the traffic oval at the high school during dismissal procedures will not be allowed to access the new driveway to head north on South Finley Avenue.

Dismissal procedures; parents should not plan pickups between 2 to 2:40 p.m.

Vehicles with a Ridge High School parking permit will be the only vehicles allowed to enter the campus from 2 to 2:40 p.m. without prior permission from the administration for such reasons as picking up a sick or injured student, or an appointment with a teacher or administrator, the email said. Parents seeking to pick up their child should not plan to do so during that time, the email said.

During dismissal, vehicles exiting the C and D lots will be able to exit through the new entrance/exit next to the Health Department but will only be able to go north, Howlett's email said.

Those vehicles exiting the C and D lots can head south or west by entering the oval and proceeding to the traffic signal. This traffic will be stopped from entering the oval while the buses depart, the email said.

All vehicles entering campus after 2 p.m. and before the buses have been dismissed will be directed to the A lot until after all buses have cleared the campus, the email said.

Vehicles exiting the A lot must turn right into the oval and enter the flow of traffic moving counter-clockwise, according to the plan in place before the start of school.