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Miranda Ave dropoff undergoes construction

After being in progress for a month now, the construction near Miranda Ave should be complete by this June. However, according to Assistant Prin- cipal of Facilities Kimberly Cowell, because of favorable circumstances regarding the weather and the con- struction crew, the project has been going efficiently and may even be completed earlier. “We’re in the midst of no rain, and while we would all like to see rain, [it] is actually not good for construction, so having no rain means that the project moves along fairly

nicely as there are no delays,” Cowell said. “So we may see this project com- pleted sooner and it could be done even up to months sooner. [In addition,] at the moment, the general contractor is working well with the subcontractors and that is one of the most important elements in any construction project.”

The master plan implemented in 2009 by the Board of Education put the Miranda Ave changes in motion. At the time the changes were pro- posed, Gunn had around 1500 to 1700 students, but the Board of Education wants Gunn to be able to support up to 2300 students, thus increasing the

amount of in-and-out traffic. Because the Board wanted Gunn to be able to take more students, administrators began the Miranda project. “Rather than have just one ingress and one egress, in terms of dropoff, the deci- sion was made to take the [Miranda dropoff] and to make another dropoff area,” Cowell said. “And particularly since the buildings, especially the new buildings, the N buildings, are located on that side of campus, it made sense to ‘divide and conquer.’”

While the actual construction is going smoothly, a big drawback is the fact that it occurs during school hours. The teachers of the science building and K building have been the most affected as the construction site is in very close proximity to those buildings. A key problem has been the amount of noise that

the construction machines cause. “It’s just really loud,” foods teacher Cindy Peters said. “Though we’re starting to get used to [the noise], it’s the vibration that caused some of the teachers to have to stop teaching because it’s just so disruptive. [For example], they were right at the door with a big earthmover and the whole room was shaking, but I was lucky I didn’t have a class.”

In general, the students have suf- fered from the effects of the construc- tion but the extent of the disturbance has not been very significant. “The construction hasn’t affected my class- room experience to a great degree,” junior Ebrahim Feghhi said. “How- ever, occasionally the teacher had to pause the lecture for a few seconds because of the noise, but that’s about it. It hasn’t posed a huge problem.”

As the construction continues, a minor problem rose from the fact that the 70 to 80 staff members who used to park in the back near Miranda now have to park in the main lot. “Staff parking gets tight because a lot of us used to park along the spaces [near Miranda] and they could be all filled [very quickly],” English teacher Ginny Moyer said. “So now [we] are all going to the front, and definitely I think in terms of the pressure of the staff parking up front, it has gotten tight.”

Though much of the construction occurs inside the Gunn campus, there is one worrisome aspect. “My concern is that we are not going to be able to make a left turn on Miranda for people to go towards Los Altos Hills, so people are going to have to make a right turn and people aren’t going to want to do that,” Peters said. According to Cowell, because of this new configuration, people who usually turn left out of Miranda may make an illegal U-turn to com- mute faster. This means that traffic enforcement will increase along Miranda Ave. “We are going to tell people not to do that because they may end up with a tick

et,” Cowell said. “Having said that, I am sure it’s going to hap- pen anyway, but during the peak traffic times, you’re going to see Palo Alto police department traffic enforcement. So people [using the drop- off] will just have to plan on going that direction.” Many of the adjustmentsthat will be made to the area be- ing remodeled are mostly aesthetic to adapt to the fact that the area will become a second pick up and drop off point for students. Accord- ing to Cowell, there will be both a sidewalk on the far side and a wait- ing area that will span from the science building to the auto yard. The organic garden will be moved next to the English Language Learning building and the K building. Fruit trees will be planted there as well. The lockers have already been re- moved and some seating will be added so people can have cover when it rains.

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