While Dexter’s schoolchildren are enjoying their summer break, the Dexter Community Schools Department of Transportation is hard at work creating a central hub bus loop on Dan Hoey Road behind .
The project is scheduled for completion Aug. 15, in time for the 2011-12 school year.
Through the support of the Dexter community, the department is in the third phase of its $47. 9 million technology and infrastructure improvement bond that passed with nearly 66 percent of the vote during a special election in May 2008. The current phase also includes expanding the district's bus garage on Marshall Road.
According to Transportation Director Sean Burton, the total estimated cost for the bus loop project is $1.04 million, including permits, asphalt, construction and earthwork.
Burton said traffic at the schools during peak pickup and drop-off times has become potentially hazardous. Creation of the central hub will help alleviate congestion by eliminating the mixing of parent and bus traffic in and around the schools, he said.
“It will also help reduce the traffic congestion around the schools as the buses will have a designated location that is separate from the parent traffic,” Burton said.
There is also a cost-savings component of the project, as buses will have make only one stop for all four schools’ students.
“This will assist us in eliminating miles driven by each bus, thus reducing fuel consumption and wear and tear on the vehicles,” Burton said.
The buses will be shut off while they are parked at the hub to reduce diesel emissions as well.
At the beginning of the school year, additional transportation staff will be available to help direct students from the hub to their respective schools. According to Burton, the student-led from Creekside Intermediate and Wylie Elementary schools will also be available during drop-off and pickup times.
Burton, Superintendent Mary Marshall or a building principal will be on site every day of the school year to help ensure that the process runs smoothly.
In an effort to reduce congestion last year, the district's Transportation Department created a central drop-off location near Bates and Wylie elementary schools, though the buses did not remain parked at the drop-off location. The plan was abandoned several weeks after it began due to logistical difficulties, Burton said.
According to Burton, reaction from parents to the new hub has been favorable.
“The biggest question has been regarding inclement weather and we will follow similar procedures as we did last year in those cases,” he said.
Dexter parent Mike Cabana is not completely in favor of this year’s changes due to the cost.
“I wonder how long it will take to save $1 million in fuel costs in order to justify spending what we have on this hub,” Cabana said.
Parents will receive information about this year’s "bus village" event from 10 a.m.-noon Aug. 27. Drivers and staff will be availabe to show students where they will board their bus during the school year and to answer questions.
For more information on the project, visit The Dexter Community Schools' website.