Silverado Elementary School is located at 7531 Santiago Canyon Road, about a half-mile from the entrance to Silverado Canyon and about two miles from the entrance of Modjeska Canyon. Buses travel through Silverado, Williams and Modjeska canyons to pick up and drop off students each morning and afternoon. Roads in the canyons are narrow and winding, with low tree branches and other obstacles. Live Oak Canyon Road and Trabuco Road are included in this report because if Silverado Elementary closes, a number of families will use those roads to drive their children to Trabuco Elementary, a school with a similar teaching and administrative philosophy and similar in size to Silverado.
Orange County provided traffic counts for the years 2006, 2007, 2008 and January through March 2009. The figures indicate that Santiago Canyon is heavily traveled, carrying an average of 6,000 vehicles a day. In an average year, Santiago experiences 19 traffic accidents, with an average of 12 injuries and one fatality.
While Live Oak carries about half the number of vehicles per day as Santiago, it has almost twice as many accidents. The annual average is 38 accidents, with 21 injuries and three fatalities.
Silverado Canyon Road averages 6.7 accidents a year and the two Modjeska Roads (Modjeska Canyon and Modjeska Grade) average 1.3 accidents a year.
Buses will likely pick up children from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m., then bring the kindergarten students home between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. Other students will travel home from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. From 2006 through 2008, Santiago Canyon Road experienced 27 accidents during these hours. Live Oak Canyon Road had 31; Silverado had 8 and the two Modjeska Roads, three.
The statistics reveal that the canyon roads are dangerous to travel and the risk of collision increases with mileage gained on Santiago Canyon Road toward the city of Orange or Live Oak Road toward Trabuco Elementary School.
When road closures occur, as they often do along Santiago Canyon Road, at Jamboree or the 241, it creates a significant hardship for our parents who need to transport the children to and from downtown schools. When the road is closed parents and/or buses must go all the way south to Lake Forest to get on the 5 freeway or 241 toll road, then travel to Orange to deliver or pick up children. This commute takes an additional hour (and the tolls are expensive). It is a distance of approximately 25-30 miles each way. As many of the elementary school children also attend the Silverado Children's Center (25 ages K-6), they are currently safeguarded from this problem. Since they are in nurtured professional care until 6 pm, their parents delayed by emergencies as this one can arrive to pick them up safely regardless. They are not sitting at a city school awaiting someone to get them….whenever they get there.
We feel that the singular solution to these safety and welfare issues is to keep Silverado Elementary School open in its current location on Santiago Canyon Road, where it is more safely and easily accessed by those going to and from school from both Modjeska and Silverado Canyon directions.
In conclusion, we respectfully but urgently offer that this traffic report and analysis, combined with the negative community economic impact report we provided OUSD at the last meeting --- in addition to the ongoing effort to create an Environmental Science Education Curriculum plan for our school --- warrants not only your renewed attention but your support of Silverado Elementary, a California Distinguished School and an important and essential facility among OUSD schools.
Please consider writing additional letters to the OUSD board and the superintendent citing this critical information.
The next OUSD board meeting is Tuesday May 12.