DOT, schools freezing each other out?

Icy road (WTVD)

February 3, 2010 9:03:27 PM PST
Road conditions were the reason schools were cancelled most of the week. Up until Wednesday, some roads were covered in snow to where school busses couldn't get around. But at no point did the school system call the state to see if roads could get plowed more quickly so schools could open.

And after three snow days in a row, a lot of parents, grandparents and caretakers say they are going stir crazy.

Judy Nutt has been looking after her two grand-kids all week feeling the ripple effects of just three inches of snow.

"Today especially, they could have had a delayed opening, I feel, and those kids could have gone to school," she said.

As of Tuesday, the DOT hadn't even begun plowing subdivisions in Wake County.

"I couldn't tell you which ones are state and which ones are city to tell you the truth," Wake County School Transportation Director Bob Snidemiller said.

The reason he doesn't know who owns the roads on his bus routes or who's responsible for plowing them is, it doesn't matter.

The school system doesn't coordinate with either state or city to get bus routes clear.

School spokesman Michael Evans says there are so many bus routes and miles covered that coordination would be impractical, if not impossible.

"We have 4,500 bus runs a day that total more than 83,000 miles in Wake County alone, so I'd be hard pressed to tell you a road that we don't touch," he said.

"I don't know how we could coordinate with bus routes when every single road we have, state and city, is a bus route," DOT Engineer Wally Bowman said.

Bowman runs the DOT in Wake, Durham, and a handful of other counties.

He says the DOT's policy is to cover the biggest roads first and the smallest roads last and that means subdivisions have to wait every time.

Regardless of snow days or their ripple effects, in the Wake school system the general policy is if it's a snow day for one school, it's a snow day for all schools.

That's something the new school board is looking at and is considering changing.

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