Wake Ed

I-40 road project could change Wake County school times

The Wake County school system’s transportation department – from this school year’s major bus route changes to the looming impact of the next phase of the I-40 reconstruction project will have – will take center stage at Tuesday’s school board meeting.

During the work session, staff will provide an update on the transportation department. Topics will include the changes made for the 2014-15 school year, bus driver recruitment and retention, transportation department request processes and considerations for the 2015-16 school year. Among the changes made this year was to drop 116 bus routes and eliminate 4,000 stops.

The bus route changes have produced complaints from some families about students now facing unsafe bus stops. But school officials have said most of those concerns were unfounded.

As part of the discussion, staff will present an update on the how the I-40 reconstruction project might impact bus operations for the upcoming school year. Once called Crawleigh but now dubbed the Fortify project by the state Department of Transportation, the I-40 project has cast a big shadow over Wake County.

The DOT is engaging in a 11.5-mile rebuilding of the south Raleigh portion of the Betline. The first phase involving the I-440 section at the southeast corner of the Beltline hasn’t been a major problem for the school district. But the picture could change when work shifts to the longer, more heavily traveled 8-mile section of I-40 across South Raleigh.

Due to the concerns about the I-40 work, administrators will ask the school board during the regular meeting to vote on waiving board policy 5032, which says that bell schedules for the coming school year are to be adopted April 1. The waiver will give staff more time to complete an analysis of the road project’s impact on school buses.

The board had granted the same waiver last year before staff ultimately determined no changes would be needed for the 2014-15 school year.