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West construction causes school bus problems
West transportation issues2.jpg
Both access points on Club Drive to West Elementary School have been overtaken by ongoing construction. The situation left school officials with a dilemma: how do bus drivers access the school when it reconvenes after fall break? A solution is under consideration. - photo by Lisa Hobbs

A renovation and expansion project at West Elementary has created a transportation problem in that buses have lost their primary access to the school from Club Drive.

Warren County School System is on fall break. Students will be returning Monday, Oct. 14. At this time, ongoing construction has overtaken both school access points on Club Drive. That portion of the project is slated for completion Nov. 8. Until that time, the school must find an alternate access for buses. 

Director of Schools Bobby Cox has requested the city of McMinnville allow buses to use the Garfield Street entrance behind its Civic Center in order to access the parking lot behind the school so that students can be dropped off in the morning and picked up in the afternoon. 

That request was relayed to members of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Tuesday night by McMinnville Parks and Recreation Department director Scott McCord.

“The construction phase at the school has now entered the storm water phase, which is Club Drive,” said McCord. “Basically, that entrance to the school has been torn up. Bobby asked, starting Monday, if they could use our walkway as their bus entry and exit during mornings and afternoons.”

Bus drivers would use the area like a cul-de-sac, traveling behind the Civic Center from Garfield Street, between the pool and bathrooms, accessing the school’s back parking lot through a gate, picking up or dropping off students, turning around, and making their way back to Garfield Street.

“We usually keep that gate locked, but we would unlock it for them to use it,” said Parks and Recreation assistant director Justin Scott. 

Concern was expressed for potential damage of the walkway due to heavy buses traveling back and forth daily. 

Alderman Everett Brock asked, “They’d be driving on the walking path?”

“Yes,” said McCord. 

Alderman Mike Neal questioned, “Is the walking path made well enough to support school buses?”

“Can we get them to cover any damages?” asked Brock. “That’s a lot of bus traffic back and forth.” 

McCord stated he would discuss liability with Cox. 

Mayor Ben Newman asked how many buses would be using the walkway.

“I have no idea,” said McCord. 

Newman added, “I definitely want to help the school system, but if you look at what big vehicles will do to a road that’s not built for it, it will start to buckle.” 

City attorney Tim Pirtle suggested a temporary easement with liability for damages as a stipulation.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen unanimously approved the request, if Warren County School System approves a temporary easement.