First day of school renews concerns over eliminated bus routes

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WEST JORDAN -- Students in the Jordan School District started class Wednesday, but the first day back raised a familiar and serious concern among parents.

A tighter budget has forced the district to slash some bus routes, and now students at a West Jordan middle school must walk to school along a busy road.

Jordan School District transportation fleet
  • 51 schools served
  • 70 drivers
  • 200 school buses
  • 12,000 regular students transported daily
  • 1,000 special education students transported daily
  • 5.2 million miles traveled yearly
-Jordan School District

"It's dangerous," says Conee Sherwood. "A lot of parents just don't want their kids to cross the street."

That street is Utah state Route 111 -- a busy road where the speed limit is posted at 55 miles an hour.

Sherwood has a student who attends Sunset Ridge Middle School in West Jordan. For those who live in the Sycamores, the neighborhood west of U-111, it means their students have to cross the highway to get to school.

"As parents, today was the day; and how much longer do we have to wait until something is done?" Melissa Worthen asks.

For months, there was talk that the Jordan School District would slash several of its hazardous bus routes. Eliminating the routes saved $1.2 million; the district says its hands are tied when it comes to fixing the problem.

"That's what makes it hard, is we've been able to help these communities out and now we're no longer financially able," says district spokesman Steven Dunham.

Next year a similar route for elementary school students will also be eliminated -- something that worries parents.

"First-, second-, third-graders, kindergarten kids; so this is not an issue that can be put on the back burner after a couple of months," Worthen says.

Jordan School District bus service criteria
The Jordan School District provides bus service for all students who live 2 miles or more away from school. Bus routes within a 2 mile radius of a school, such as the West Jordan route that crosses U-111, are provided by the district as a courtesy. They are subject to elimination depending on budget issues.

Because U-111 is a state road, legally, the district has no responsibility in providing busing. The neighborhood is also less than 1 mile away from school.

Jordan District approved a walking route, but that involves the students walking to the light at 7800 South and back up to the school. The city says even that's still too dangerous.

"It's concerning everyone in the neighborhood, not just people who are affected right now," says West Jordan Mayor Melissa Johnson.

City administrators say they can't set up a school crossing zone or lights because it's the road doesn't belong to them; it's property of the Utah Department of Transportation.

West Jordan's mayor says she's received dozens of calls from residents. All she can recommend right now is car pools to shuttle kids across U-111. A pedestrian bridge would take time and planning.

UDOT officials say after the district eliminated routes, and complaints from parents started rolling in, they looked into what they could do. Soon, a traffic signal will be installed at 8200 South, but that is still in the very beginning stages.



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