The Carmageddon has claimed the tardies of many a punctual student. I myself have felt personally victimized by the gridlock of cars that adds ten minutes minimum to my daily drive to school. I can’t claim to be the most affected, because I have first hour free, but it drives me crazy to be late in any capacity.

Gunnar Lundberg is The Smoking Gun, and he is gunning' for the truth.
Keenan Schember
Gunnar Lundberg is The Smoking Gun, and he is gunning’ for the truth.

The cause of this Carmageddon is undeniably a combination of students returning to school and the closure of entrance ramps onto Highway 100. According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), the northbound entrance to Highway 100 from Minnetonka Boulevard will be closed until this October. The detour on MnDOT’s website states to follow Minnetonka Boulevard to Louisiana Avenue to Excelsior Boulevard to Hwy 100, a fairly confusing and time consuming route. Many work commuters knew a faster detour that used Barry Street, and that may have worked well in the summer, but once school started it created a toxic gridlock of students and workers so long and painful I dubbed it  “The Carmageddon.”

I sat down with Dr. Skinner to find out if BSM planned for this immense back-up, she was able to tell me about a inclusive council of BSM staff that met with MnDOT years in advance of the construction on Highway 100. Dr. Skinner also mentioned that BSM did have a say in when the Barry Street exit would be closed. She said that MnDOT has been very accommodating during the entire process; they even kept Highway  100 open longer when a weekend closure coincided with BSM’s graduation ceremony.  

However, it is also arguable that a true solution lies not in a decrease of commuters, but a more efficient way of directing traffic. Coach Creer has been the designated traffic coordinator for a little over a year. On an average day I believe he excels at his job; on a crowded day I believe he overachieves. In my opinion, Creer is consistently able to handle a large volume of cars as efficiently as humanly possible. Humanly possible. With machines running nearly every busy intersection, I decided to find out if a stop light would be a more efficient option for BSM– or even an option at all.

I reached out to Aaron Wiesen, a Civil Engineer for the City of St. Louis Park. He was able to explain the process that determines a street’s candidacy for traffic lights. If a light were to be proposed, there would be an engineering study to measure traffic volume. The site must meet all nine “signal warrants” to incur a light. Some of those “signal warrants“ are a peak traffic hour, pedestrian volume, school crossing, and crash experience. BSM does in fact meet some of these requirements, but no where near all.

I went back to the drawing board, but my mind was fresh out of ideas. JFK’s voice echoed in my head as I suddenly had a sublime idea; ask not what you can do for your school, but what your school can do for you. With this mentality, I decided to sit down with Ms. Anderson and ask for her thoughts on possible solutions to the Carmageddon.

Ms. Anderson spoke of the glory days of old when the only people using the frontage road were Benilde students. The administration has even seen a significant increase in tardies for first hour, and on some days all have been excused due to the terrible Carmageddon. As for solutions, she said that the Carmageddon is temporary and should clear up when entrance ramps for Highway 100 reopen, so no drastic measures are being taken to fix it. As a student who is experiencing this everyday, it’s disheartening to know that nothing is being done to fix the problem now. However, she had a sincere request to students to not take short cuts through the neighborhood, as the locals have been calling the school about over congested streets. She also affirmed that the administration is very aware and understanding about the traffic, and would rather students be two minutes late than disruptive to the neighbors. This request is understandable, and the administration may be lenient, but missing any amount of class can cause headaches and entering late can disrupt the entire class.

Pullquote Photo

JFK’s voice echoed in my head as I suddenly had a sublime idea; ask not what you can do for your school, but what your school can do for you.

— The Smoking Gun

MnDOT’s website says the ramps on Highway 7 and Minnetonka Boulevard should reopen in October of this year. However, if the construction and traffic does continue into the winter months– which BSM is planning on, the school is considering taking more serious measures. “If we know that it’s a horribly snowy day, and we already know [the traffic] we’re dealing with, I think we need to be quicker to have meetings about having school online.” And go ahead and let out your squeal of excitement, because the teachers are on board too.

In the mean time, I’ll grudgingly leave for school ten minutes earlier hoping to miss my date with the gigantic, unavoidable, soul crushing Carmageddon.