Traffic near Neosho Middle School has been a problem for several years.

Traffic near Neosho Middle School has been a problem for several years.

With new stop signs installed on Waldo Halter Memorial Drive flanking the exit from Hale McGinty Drive, city and school officials hope the situation will improve.

“It’s kind of always been a hot spot down there,” said Keith Rook, assistant principal at Neosho Middle School. “We’ve looked at lots of different ways to try to address it with the traffic flow that’s out here now.”

So far, the signs seem to be helping.

“It appears to be making it more orderly out there, less dangerous for sure,” Rook said.

All the traffic to and from the school is on Hale McGinty, and comes off Waldo Hatler. When cars can’t turn off Hale McGinty, it fills up and cars on Waldo Hatler are left waiting to turn.

Sometimes there is too much traffic to make the left turn on to Hale McGinty, and on occasions the middle school has had reports of vehicles stretching to the golf course parking lot.

The week before school started, the city of Neosho’s traffic commission approved a plan to make the intersection a three-way stop. New stop signs and warning signs equipped with caution lights were installed last week. Rumble strips to alert drivers to the new stops will be installed soon.

“Everybody knew we had a problem,” said Alan Smith, traffic commission member. “Anybody who has ever dropped a kid off at the middle school — we knew we had a problem there.

“It does slow you down a little, but it’s better than one car waiting on 12 cars to go by. By doing that one-at-a-time at least everyone is getting their turn.”

There had been some fender-benders at the intersection and parents complained about the difficulty of making left-hand turns in or out to the school.

The Neosho R-5 School Board requested the signs from the traffic commission, initially asking they be operative during school hours only.

The commission decided that the signs would be more effective if the intersection was a dedicated three-way stop.

“It worked out really well,” said Dr. Richard Page, superintendent of Neosho R-5 Schools. “I think it has improved the safety of that intersection for sure. Anyone that is choosing to turn back west off of Hale McGinty Drive is definitely finding it easier to do so than it was prior to the three-way intersection.”

Approximately 1,000 children are enrolled at the middle school. While the stop signs may be an inconvenience for some motorists, safety was one of the primary concerns.

“I think the fact that they’re slowing down and allowing for a turn to be safe in there now is a lot better than what we had before where they didn’t slow down at all,” Page said. “Definitely, it’s better.”