Parking changes indicate upcoming traffic developments


This photo displays the fence located just outside the Meridian main office, next to the parking lot. (Photo by Charlie VanHorn)

Charlie VanHorn

In January, a fence went up in front of the Meridian High School building, enclosing 35 parking spaces. The fence was unexpected to students and staff, making parking and student drop off more difficult than months previous.

Not only was staff parking minimized, but the select disabled parking spaces were also a part of the blocked off section of the parking lot. In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, the demolished spots were moved to the Mary Ellen Henderson parking lot, allowing easy access to Meridian through the Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School entrance. Previously the spots were the shortest distance from the Meridian building, but questions were raised about the accessibility due to the curbs present next to the parking spots.

Associate Principal Dave Serensits confirmed that roughly the same amount of spots will be available next year. While no students are losing spots, he did admit that the temporary shift of student parking to the Henderson lot would mean a lack of spots for visitors to the school, including FCCPS administrators.

Birds-eye view of the planned Kiss-and-Ride loop. (Photo via FCCPS)

Currently, the school plans to install a kiss and ride loop where the spots were, allowing parents to pick up and drop off their children. The kiss and ride loop, coupled with the reopening of Mustang Alley as a two-way street will greatly improve the flow of traffic around the school. The road to get to the loop will cut through the West Falls Development Project, a mixed-use development that includes apartments, condominiums, extended-stay hotels, restaurants, shops, community areas, and medical offices. While the Kiss-and-Ride loop is expected to greatly improve traffic, the administration has acknowledged that people may use Mustang Alley as a cut-across to get onto Leesburg Pike with the intent of avoiding the intersection at West Broad Street. When it reopens as a two-way street, people will also use Mustang Alley as a way to turn out onto Haycock Road. 

The Kiss-and-Ride loop, as well as the West Falls development, is expected to be completed after almost two years, in Fall of 2024. Unless the school comes up with another solution, students will have to park in the Henderson lot until then.

The loss of spots comes after the controversial planned walkout over high fees and lack of parking spaces for juniors. Currently, no one is losing a spot, but the added difficulties for visitors make it obvious why the school wanted to hold off on distributing excess parking. Next year, additional changes to the parking system are coming. According to Mr. Serensits, FCCPS is currently planning on implementing a needs based system for underclassmen. Student-athletes with morning practices or those with school commitments who are unable to take the bus will be able to apply for these spots.