Bridge construction slows school transportation


Taylor Banner

The Wildcat Drive bridge is one of two bridges currently under construction. The bridge construction was scheduled from June 14 to December 1.

The reconstruction of key bridges near the high/middle school campus has added some stress for transportation to the school this fall. With the Wildcat Drive (83 North) bridge and the 83 South bridge out for the count, the added drive time has been a nuisance for many student drivers and buses alike.
¨If I have to go to town to go get breakfast and come back, I can’t use the bridge to cut across to get to the school quicker. Instead, I have to go all the way around which takes a longer time, which means I’d have to leave earlier in the morning,¨ senior Nicole Say said.
¨I now leave ten minutes earlier than I usually would have last year to get to school on time. I am annoyed that it’s not finished yet, I feel like it has been in the process of getting finished for a while. Once it’s done I’m going to be happy because it’s going to give me back a lot of time,¨ senior Brea Jolliff said.
With the Wildcat Drive bridge being constructed in the late 1970’s, the bridge’s driving surface had taken a toll, causing routine maintenance to not be able to keep up with the rate of repairs needed.
“For the Wildcat Drive bridge, most of the work includes replacing just the concrete deck or driving surface, but we are also replacing several of the bearing assemblies that cushion between the beams and the footings. This requires that the deck be removed, so the beams can be lifted up and the concrete footings repaired,” MODOT Area Engineer Dave Taylor said.
The bridge work has not only delayed student drivers, but buses have also been arriving late.
District transportation director Doug Alden said the bridge work has made all buses about 10 minutes late each day. Drivers have had to adjust some routes, do some backtracking and adjust leave times to accommodate for the construction.
“It made me have to get up a little earlier because the buses come earlier in the morning so we can make it to school on time,” sophomore Riley Haidusek said.
“Bridge work will normally always inconvenience drivers because the work typically requires a significant workforce, multiple heavy machines, and contractor/subcontractor coordination with all phases of work. Overall, we do our best to limit the driver inconveniences and delays, but we ask drivers to understand that they are necessary to safely complete the work,” Taylor said.
The construction does not only add to drive times, but also safety concerns as many hurried southbound drivers choose to make an illegal U-turn to access Wildcat Drive.
“Safety will always be the department’s and my highest priority. We have focused on safety by utilizing multiple message boards to give advance notice of the bridge work ahead, static signage to keep drivers from making U-turns and lowering the speed limit through the project to try to decrease traffic speeds. Additional intersection signs to direct drivers to the school, businesses, and Route M were also installed to try to keep the inconvenience to a minimum,” Taylor said.
Completion dates on both bridges is Dec. 1. The Wildcat Drive Bridge construction on route 83 North was scheduled from June 14 to December 1. Bridge construction on route 83 South was scheduled from June 1 to December 1.
¨For the Wildcat Drive bridge, we plan to complete the construction in early November and finish well ahead of the December 1 planned completion date, barring any setbacks,¨ Taylor said.
Another added road project could affect drivers in the school district. The resurfacing of Route 7 North started on Sept. 27 and is scheduled to be completed on Nov. 1.