Construction termed a danger to students

September 14, 1994|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Sun Staff Writer

A group of Bollman Bridge Elementary School parents is asking Howard County school officials to reinstate school bus service because they say that nearby construction poses a danger to their children's safety.

The parents are concerned about a walking route on the 9000 block of Vollmerhausen Road, where private contractors are clearing an area to build the future home of Bethel Assembly of God. Parents are afraid that trucks entering and leaving the site are an accident waiting to happen.

"They've taken a part of the children's walking path and turned it into a right of way for construction," said Denise Wolford, Bollman Bridge's PTA vice president.

"We just don't want any of our children hurt. We are concerned about their safety."

Bus service for students who live within a mile of school was eliminated last school year after school officials placed a guardrail along the sidewalk on Vollmerhausen Road to protect children from traffic.

"I thought it was a dangerous walk without the construction, so now I think it's pretty dangerous," said Marcia Golas, who makes the 0.7-mile walk with her children every day.

Parents' concern comes at a time when a group of Waterloo Elementary School parents are appealing Superintendent Michael E. Hickey's decision to stop bus transportation for about 70 children in the Kendall Ridge neighborhood. Waterloo parents object to the isolated, newly built wooded path that children must use to reach their school.

Waterloo parents plan to seek support from PTAs across the county to change the county's rule that elementary school children who live within one mile of their school must walk to school.

On Monday on Vollmerhausen Road, a bulldozer was parked on the Bethel Assembly of God site, land cleared of trees and grass.

Trucks loaded with what appeared to be dirt went in and out of the lot, often taking up both lanes of traffic to make the sharp right turn into the site, just near the Route 32 overpass. A small section of guardrail between the road and the sidewalk had been removed to make way for a paved entrance to give trucks access to the site.

Glenn Johnson, the school system's transportation director, said that he and a county traffic engineer will visit the site today to see whether the route is safe for children to walk to school. He was at the site last week and said it appeared to pose no danger to children.

"We did see some vehicles coming in and coming out, but we didn't see any conflicts with the children and the vehicles," he said.

He said the construction site near Bollman Bridge is no different from the former library construction site near Owen Brown Middle School and Dasher Green Elementary School.

At that site, school bus service was provided only after a large part of a pathway was torn up during construction of the new library, now open off Cradlerock Way. Bus service was discontinued after construction was completed, he said.

School bus service to Bollman Bridge could be reinstated if a similar situation develops, he said.

Mrs. Wolford, who has two children at Bollman Bridge, said that although bus service to the school was eliminated last school year, parents were satisfied by the guardrail on Vollmerhausen Road.

"They made it a safe route for the children," she said. "Now they're taking a step back. This construction project could take up to two years."

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