Galloway Township officials are looking for new emergency access routes near the Absegami High School and township school district complex on South Reeds Road.
Mayor Don Purdy said they began researching alternative routes to exit the school after the severe storm during the graduation ceremony at the high school earlier this month. The storm included hail, thunder and lightning, and heavy rain and raised concerns about what would happen if they needed to evacuate a large group of people from the complex, he said.
Currently, motorists enter and exit the school from Pennsylvania Avenue at the front entrance, but Township Manager Arch Liston said they have identified another road off Pennsylvania Avenue that motorists could use.
New Jersey Avenue exists on maps but is not a completed road. It connects to Pennsylvania Avenue and could be used as an evacuation route, Liston said. The manager said construction may not be needed as it could be used as a dirt road.
There is also a path behind the fields that connects to the township’s school complex on South Reeds Road. It also could be used, Liston said. When Gov. Chris Christie spoke in Galloway last week his helicopter landed at the high school and then he traveled that road to the township’s Middle School, said Charles Muller, business administrator of the Greater Egg Harbor Regional School District.
The township plans to meet with the two school districts on a plan, Purdy said. There is also the possibility the township could apply for grant money to connect the roads to Jimmie Leeds Road or the Garden State Parkway, he said.
“There could be a large amount of people in an area with only one way (to exit),” he said. “There could be potential for a major catastrophe.”
Galloway Superintendent Annette Giaquinto said she had informal conversations with Purdy on the topic.
The district conducted a traffic study when the township’s Middle School was proposed about 10 years ago, she said.
At the time, the results did not require additional roads or routes, but it was suggested a follow up study occur once the school opened, Giaquinto said, adding she did not know whether another study was done.
“Certainly, additional access routes would be helpful to address traffic congestion on regular days and be even more beneficial in the event of an emergency,” she said.
Muller said the district does not have plans to make additional roads, but noted the high school was built about 30 years ago.
Contact Joel Landau:
Follow Joel Landau on Twitter @landaupressofac