Parking Lot Chaos

Students at Shawnee Mission West share their frustrations with parking lot traffic.

Photo illustration by Isaiah Mckay

When 2:40 PM hits, marking the end of a grueling school day, keys are tightly gripped in the hands of West students. The parking lots at West are notorious for being bumper to bumper as students try to exit the lot. The parking space choice for the day is solely determined by what time a student gets to school. Clicking the snooze button one extra time can add an extra couple minutes to a walk into the school and keep a student waiting in line at the end of the day.

Although there are two parking lots that can hold up to 500 cars with two exits each, the 417 student drivers still find the amount of time they spend in the lots after school detrimental to their free time. Many students have after school jobs or other outside of school activities that start before 3:30 PM, only giving them 40 minutes to get home and prepare themselves for the rest of the day if it takes them the usual 10 minutes to exit the parking lot.

So what is the solution to this seemingly inevitable congestion? Some students think there should be more exits in the parking lots or make the exits after 2:40 PM only exits. Some students get picked up by cars that enter into the parking lot that driving students are using to exit, causing avoidable backup.

“During dance team season I am at school by at least 7 AM, so I would get a great spot in the Antioch lot,” sophomore Emily Tracy said. “Now that the season is over it’s really annoying to have to park in the middle or the back of the lot. The parking lots need more exits because when all of the cars are waiting in line to leave, some cars are still coming in.”

Like Tracy who is at school early most days, some students come to school early on purpose to ensure a good spot. Every student has a different preference as to where they think the prime spot to park is. Some students like parking closest to the building’s doors, but some also like parking near the exits. Both placements give students a faster escape versus parking in the middle of the lot.

“I always have to rush out to my car if I want to beat the senior lot traffic. Soccer season is nice however because I get to leave well after the rush,” junior Sinclaire Miramontez said. “If there was another exit to the senior lot that wasn’t to 85th Street, traffic would be smoother.”

Right now there are no projects underway to improve the traffic in the parking lots at West. Students are hopeful that the school administrators and school district resource officers will work together to find a solution. For now, students will continue to arrive early in the mornings and run out to their cars after school to ensure they get out of the parking lots before the rush. As always, students should remember to wear their seat belts, look out for pedestrians, and be courteous to other drivers.