Some Wake County students will have different school start and dismissal times this fall because of the reconstruction of the Raleigh Beltline. But school administrators said Tuesday the project isn’t projected to have a significant impact on the district.
Construction crews will ramp up repair work on a heavily traveled 8-mile stretch of I-40 across South Raleigh that will lead to lane closures beginning in May. At a time when businesses are being advised to warn their workers that their commutes could get much longer, school officials say initial estimates show the road work will have limited impact on bus routes.
“We have 10 percent of our routes run on the southern portion of the route,” David Neter, Wake’s chief business officer, said in an interview. “They will be affected. We’ll be using alternate routes for them.”
Administrators say they’re still finalizing their analysis of how the road project will impact buses. On Tuesday, the school board waived a policy that requires school start and dismissal times for the coming school year to be adopted by April 1.
The proposed 2015-16 school bell schedules are now slated to be presented April 7. Preliminarily, Neter said 10 schools may need changes, but not all those are because of the Beltline work.
Beginning in late 2013, the state Department of Transportation started a three-year project to rebuild 11 miles of Raleigh’s southern Beltline that’s used by more than 100,000 vehicles a day. Crews are finishing up the first phase of the work involving the three-mile Interstate 440 curve at the Beltline’s southeast corner.
Phase two is more problematic because the work will extend from I-40 west of Jones Franklin Road to east of the I-40/US 64/I-440 interchange. The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce is warning that commutes could increase by 30 minutes both morning and evening.
The chamber is advising its members to tell their employees to consider alternative routes, carpooling, taking the bus and adjusting work schedules.
Neter said school officials have asked N.C. State University’s Institute for Transportation Research and Education to do another analysis of how buses might be affected by drivers switching to other routes.
Also on Tuesday, the school board awarded a $5 million construction contract for long-promised athletic upgrades to Athens Drive High School in Raleigh.
The project will include a new stadium, paved perimeter access road, a concessions/restroom building, support/storage buildings and parking improvements. The existing stadium also will be renovated and primarily handle track and field events.
Athens Drive families have long argued that the stadium, which dates to the 1970s, needed extensive renovations.
Staff writer Bruce Siceloff contributed to this report.
Hui: 919-829-4534; Twitter: @nckhui