MORTON -- A new east-west road on the Morton Junior High School campus has been recommended as a solution to traffic issues at the school.

The road, which would be used primarily for the drop-off and pickup of students from cars on school days, was recommended based on the results of a traffic study done earlier this year that was commissioned by Morton School Board and village of Morton.

Traffic issues is one problem School Board members are attempting to solve as they consider renovation projects for the cramped and aging junior high.

Becca Wagner, traffic engineer for Peoria-based Hanson Professional Services, told board members Tuesday that traffic in the junior high area was studied in early January.

"It was a quite hectic time during the morning drop-off of students. Parents created their own de-facto drop-off lanes," she said. "It appears about 70 to 75 percent of junior high students are dropped off from cars. In rough numbers, that's about 350 of 470 students."

Wagner said school buses would drop off and pick up students on the west side of the junior high if the east-west road is built.

"Student safety is our biggest concern," said Morton Superintendent Jeff Hill. "With the east-west road, students being dropped off from cars would no longer have to cross a road to get into the school. Will people use the east-west road? That's hard to predict."

The east-west road would cut across what's now a ball diamond and would be just north of a new gym that's been proposed.

Also Tuesday, Hill announced the appointment of Deidre Ripka as the new Morton High School principal.

Ripka will replace Michael Gourley, who will depart July 1 to become principal at Morris High School. Gourley has been Morton's principal for two years.

Ripka is an assistant principal and dean of students at Morton. She came to the high school in 2005 as a counselor and became director of counseling in 2007.

"Deidre has earned the trust and respect of the high school community," Hill said.

Ripka said she appreciated the feedback and support from her colleagues as she considered her career move "and I'm ready to take our high school to the next level."

Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or stevestein21@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.