7/29/2014 11:39:00 AM New bus loop in works at Williams Elementary
A construction crew works on a new bus loop north of the current parking lot at Williams Elementary-Middle School. The new loop is expected to be complete before the start of the school year Aug. 11. Ryan Williams/WGCN
WILLIAMS, Ariz. - A highly anticipated construction project to create a new bus loop at Williams Elementary-Middle School (WEMS) is now underway.
In 2012, Williams Unified School District (WUSD) received a $175,000 Safe Routes to School grant to improve safety in the WEMS parking lot. WUSD Superintendent Rachel Savage said the addition of the new bus loop will create separate zones in the parking lot for buses, cars and pedestrians.
"This is a huge safety measure," she said. "We found it incredibly important to get the buses out of the parking lot. Our three zones were really mixed. We had a car zone, a bus zone and a pedestrian zone that really should be separated and they never were."
Under the new design, the existing bus loop will become the parent drop off zone. Previously, concrete barriers blocked off a parent drop off lane within the parking lot, which was a temporary solution.
"We did our best with the limited resources that we had," Savage said. "We had borrowed those dividers and stuff like that. So we did the best we could to separate the zone."
With the new plan, all cars will enter at the Edison Avenue and Seventh Street intersection. Drivers will turn left to park and right to enter the parent drop off loop. The row of parking on the west side of the loop will be removed to allow for parents to exit at any time. The row of parking on the east side of the loop will be used for visitor parking.
The new bus loop is under construction to the north of the current parking areas. Buses will exit the loop at the current loading dock road. A new sidewalk will run along the new bus loop and connect to an existing city sidewalk leading to houses north of the school.
The current bus barn on the south side of the parking lot will be partitioned off, creating a separate area for buses.
"Now this will be a more formal separation and taking the buses out of the parking lot will increase safety exponentially for kids, staff, parents, everybody," Savage said. "So this is a tremendous opportunity."
Construction is expected to finish by the time school starts Aug. 11.