Construction puts students in harm's way

August 31, 2009 3:00:28 PM PDT
Some parents in one southwest Houston neighborhood are worried about their kids. They get on and off their school bus near what's become a dangerous intersection. It's just west of Almeda at Tidewater and Kirkgard. Parents say drivers started cutting through the neighborhood when construction work started on Almeda.

That repair work has reduced traffic on Almeda Road to only two lanes. The unintended early morning consequence is drivers diverting into a neighborhood, some running stop signs in the process even as children are walking to their school buses.

"They do it all the time," said HISD bus driver James Teal. "They have no respect for the school buses out here. All these kids trying to walk across the street, they just act like it's nothing."

It's one thing seeing it from a bus, but another thing when a student is trying to make it across the street.

"They had an accident two weeks ago from not stopping at that stop sign," said student Marcus Benjamin.

The concerns and complaints are enough that the district Houston city councilmember is making an appeal.

"I don't think they should utilize communities to cut through," said Councilmember Wanda Adams. "So we're looking at ways to minimize the cut-through traffic and ask them to stop at the stop sign because we do have to protect our school children."

Legally, cut-through traffic can't be banned on public roads, but traffic violators can be ticketed and on Monday, police were stopping drivers who ignored the stop signs and HISD announced the bus stop would be moved down the street to safer ground.

"Where they can be better observed and where busses have a chance to make the full corner and start turning on their lights, and make sure it's as safe as possible for everybody," said Aric Taylor with HISD Transportation Services.

HISD plans to inform parents of the bus stop change via their phone tree system. Meanwhile, HPD and HISD police will continue to monitor the area in the mornings.

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