Not having to cross I-15 has made the trip to school more dangerous for some elementary-age students.
Following a boundary change this summer that moved some Centerville Elementary students to West Bountiful Elementary, the Davis School District discontinued bus services for a majority of the students. Previously, bus service had been provided to avoid having children cross I-15."It took everyone by surprise," said Kevin Arbuckle, a parent working to improve the safety for the trip to school. "We were told nothing would change."
A primary reason for concern was the route taken by students on the north end of West Bountiful. That route, which involved walking along busy 800 West, lacked sidewalks, crossing guards and school zones.
Because of those safety concerns, the Davis School District has agreed to bus students north of 2200 North to the elementary school, located at 750 W. 400 North, for the current school year.
That means that next year, the kids will be walking again and possibly facing the same safety problems, said West Bountiful Mayor Jim Child.
During that time, however, the city will do everything it can to address the concerns, including a new bike path and additional crossing guards - if the city can find the funding.
After the loss of Ernst Home Center, the once-largest retailer in the city, West Bountiful has struggled with funding all of the necessary projects throughout the city. Regardless, Child said that the city would find a way to increase the safety along 800 West, even if it means postponing other projects.
"We need to take the responsibility and act on this as soon as we can," Child said during last Tuesday's City Council meeting. "But I don't have any answers about where to get the money."
The chance of a sidewalk along 800 West is slim this year, but the city does have a bike and pedestrian lane planned between 1950 North and 1600 North, along 800 West. That project, though not originally budgeted, will be done this fall by a contractor working on a nearby road repair. Since the equipment will already be in the area, the city received a reduced price, Child said.
Other projects could take some more creative funding. Each new crossing guard would cost approximately $5,000 annually, unless volunteers were found. Also, signs cautioning drivers to slow down, along with an increased police presence during the morning and afternoon, could help prevent accidents.
No firm decisions were made last Tuesday, primarily because the council agreed to wait and determine how much of a reduction in pedestrians the bus service will have. Even if the number is significantly reduced, the council may still take action during its next meeting.
"We don't want to sacrifice any of our kids," said councilwoman Ruth Steele.
All of the 20 parents who attended last Tuesday's meeting seemed to appreciate the efforts by the city and school district, which both responded quickly when confronted with the problem.
"Everyone has been really good to work with the safety issues," one parent said.