FARMINGTON — A second entrance to Piedra Vista High School has opened off English Road in time for the new school year.

The new entrance is expected to ease vehicle congestion on College Boulevard from the high school.

The $1 million project to extend English Road north beyond the Piñon Hills Boulevard intersection provides access to the east side of the Piedra Vista campus. The project was completed on Aug. 8, said Farmington Municipal Schools chief of operations Ted Lasiewicz.

"Hopefully, this will take a huge chunk of the traffic and take it to the back entrance of Piedra Vista," Lasiewicz said.

The school district funded about $600,000 of the road project, and the city of Farmington paid about $400,000. The district funding was part of general obligation bonds approved in 2010. Farmington City Council approved the project in May 2012. Construction work started in July 2012.

Jeff Smaka, the city's public works director, said there had been no problems with construction, though crews worked hard to finish before the start of this school year.

English Road's extension is about 1,000 feet north from Piñon Hills Boulevard and then runs about 2,500 feet to a gated entrance on the Piedra Vista campus.

Ann Gattis, Piedra Vista principal, said the district has been discussing the project for a couple of years. She said the new entrance will decrease the time required to leave campus in the afternoon.

"With about 1,300 students and large portions picked up by parents or driving and school buses all leaving down the same road, it caused a lot of congestion at the end of school," Gattis said. "It was slow moving, and everybody had to be very patient. I did see some accidents, nothing significant. Everything was a slow moving process."

Traffic is seen moving along the extension to English Road towards Pi on Hills Boulevard, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013 in Farmington.
Traffic is seen moving along the extension to English Road towards Pi on Hills Boulevard, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013 in Farmington. (Jon Austria The Daily Times)

The gate will be open for the start of school and for extracurricular activities in the afternoon and evening. Visitors will have to enter through the front entrance guard gate on College Boulevard during school hours. The Panther Trail entrance will be locked, along with the northern entrance.

Gattis said the school buses will enter and leave campus along Panther Trail, allowing the buses to exit campus more quickly.

"It's always been a bit of a bottle neck," Gattis said. "I'm excited to see the change."

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 and jkellogg@daily-times.com. Follow him @jkelloggdt on Twitter.