Christie: HS graduations, evening rush hour a bad traffic mix on on Southern

Southern, on a good day, can slow to a crawl at the slightest hint of a fender bender during evening rush hour. Imagine throwing in several thousand more cars — all trying to get to the same place at the same time — and, well, you get the picture. (Photo by Lannis Waters/The Palm Beach Post)

These weeks of the school year, thousands of parents and loved ones of Palm Beach County high school graduates are swelling with pride.

Unfortunately, however, that also means that Southern Boulevard (and to a lesser extent, Belvedere Road) from Florida’s Turnpike to State Road 7 is swelling — with traffic.

And I can tell from the amount of near-misses and drivers leaning on their horns, that I’m not the only commuter who’s noticed.

Jasmine Morales hugs a classmate before the start of the Boynton Beach High School graduation on Saturday at the South Florida Fairgrounds. (Taylor Jones / The Palm Beach Post)

Since May 10, graduations for 30-plus high schools and other programs have churned through the ample South Florida Fairgrounds. (The final four graduations are scheduled for Thursday.) The result: westbound traffic in 2-3 of the four lanes on the above-mentioned stretch, from 4-7 p.m., are nothing short of traffic nightmare during rush hour.

Southern, on a good day, can slow to a crawl at the slightest hint of a fender bender during that time. Imagine throwing in several thousand more cars — all trying to get to the same place at the same time — and, well, you get the picture.

And before I forget, these aren’t all “more experienced, careful” adult drivers. Many are said high school grads — some driving their first car — who are not so used to handling the frustration of navigating such heavy traffic and the subsequent “road rage” that accompanies it.

Speaking of which, drivers need to keep these emotions in check. We don’t want anyone hurt, especially at such a celebratory time.

But I passed by at least one major accident last week that, I’m sure, caused more than a few graduation attendees to be late.

Palm Beach Gardens Spanish teacher Francia Lamus takes a selfie with student Romario Gardner before the start of the school’s graduation on Thursday. (Taylor Jones / The Palm Beach Post)

Don’t get me wrong. I understand that this is one of those temporary but unfortunate necessities in life. I gladly participated in two at the Fairgrounds myself. It is a great venue for these events.

But in the future — maybe even today — it would be nice if our Palm Beach County Schools and government officials offer some alternate routes to us western commuters, so that we all aren’t crashing the grad festivities.

For example, would it be better to take Forest Hill Boulevard into Wellington?

Would it be better to take Okeechobee Boulevard into Royal Palm Beach and the Acreage, or to SR 7 for Loxahatchee Groves, Wellington or heaven help you, the Glades?

And can the Town of Haverhill handle Belvedere as an alternate traffic route?

Congratulations to all of the high school grads; but Thursday can’t get here fast enough.