Roadside poles stop school bus

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 4, 2000

CHESAPEAKE – About 25 Chesapeake children had to find an alternate way to school Monday after school officials suspended bus service to North Huntington Heights pending resolution of safety issues.

Tuesday, April 04, 2000

CHESAPEAKE – About 25 Chesapeake children had to find an alternate way to school Monday after school officials suspended bus service to North Huntington Heights pending resolution of safety issues.

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Bus service began again today after Chesapeake street department workers removed three poles that had been installed near the ditch line of the road to prevent destruction of the village’s drainage system, Chesapeake Mayor Jimmie Justice said.

Elementary school principal and transportation director Jack Finch cited those poles as the reason bus service had to be discontinued.

"Safety has always been our priority," Finch said at the regular April meeting of council Monday night. "When the road is safe for the bus to travel, I’ll have the bus continue to pick up the children."

Poles, which had been installed a month previously near the old jailhouse on North Huntington Heights, prevented safe bus operation, Finch said. "The driver can’t make the turn without stopping and backing up," Finch said. "Until the bus can make that turn, I won’t put the bus back up on North Huntington Heights. Because safety is our priority, I have to do what I have to do."

The Chesapeake school system has continued to travel the road despite the hazard for more than a month because officials were told the road would be fixed when funds became available, Finch said.

"The driver has to stop and back up on an inclined hill inches away from a 15-foot embankment," he said. "They put the poles and things up about a month ago. We’ve been patient because they said they would get the money to fix it. But we were recently in a situation where it was unsafe and the driver felt we had to act."

The village does not have the money necessary to install a new road, which would be the ultimate solution, Justice said.

But village officials will not allow children to miss school, he added.

"We pulled the poles up tonight," Justice said Monday. "We don’t want to hinder kids getting to school."

Without immediate steps to improve the drainage system on that road, however, North Huntington Heights residents could face elimination of their Chesapeake access road, Justice added.

"Without the poles, the road will begin caving in again and we’ll have slippage on the road again," he said.

Justice plans to have a contractor look at the area today to make suggestions and council approved the purchase of equipment to upgrade the culvert at Monday’s meeting.

"We’ll get new tile for it and try to keep it from caving in again," Justice said. "Mr. Finch is a good man and does a good job, but we still have to look out for the drainage system and roads in the village. A month ago, we cleaned the tiles up where they were mashed down. When that happens, the water backs up and undermines the road. If we don’t keep the drains open, we’re going to lose the road. If it continues to slip, we will have to do something."

And when vehicles the size of a school bus travel that road it is inevitable that the drainage system will get crushed, Finch said.

The solution might be to look for grants to help the village pay for a new road, but that is a distant possibility. A more immediate solution would be for the school district to use a shorter bus when traveling North Huntington Heights. And Justice said he hopes the same 25 people who showed up at council Monday night attend the next Chesapeake Board of Education meeting to demand the district do so.

Sandi Moore has lived on North Huntington Heights all her life and knows the road can be dangerous.

But she also know that without a bus route on that road her children will not be able to go to school.

"The state or the city, somebody needs to fix the road," Mrs. Moore said. "I could drop my kids off (at Stewart’s on Ohio 7) in the mornings, but I work until 5 " a lot of people work until 5. And the bus drops the kids off at 3 or 3:30. Some of them are 6 and 7 years old. I’m a single parent and there’s no way."