WEST JORDAN - Elementary School students at Oquirrh Elementary School in West Jordan have to take a new form of transportation to get to school for the first few months.
The Utah Department of Transportation is doing several construction projects in the west end of the valley, including a new freeway style interchange project that required them to tear down a pedestrian bridge over Bangeter Highway.
That bridge happened to be used by 320 Oquirrh Elementary school children every day to get to school. UDOT is building a new bridge, but it is not ready yet. In the meantime they had to find a way to keep the kids safe and get them to and from school.
“The thing that's unique about this project is we have an elementary school that is right down the road, and these students are used to walking across Bangeter Highway; and up until last school year they were able to do so with the pedestrian bridge, but with the new freeway style interchange, we had to take down the existing pedestrian bridge,” said UDOT spokesperson John Gleason.
Gleason’s UDOT team worked with the Jordan School District to have four buses take the children to and from school. They have scheduled pick-up and drop-off times.
“Construction can be very inconvenient, we want to minimize that inconvenience as much as possible,” Gleason said. “There is nothing more important than making sure these kids get to and from school safely.”
Parents and school administrators were uneasy about the new buses initially, but now it's three days into this school year and they love them.
“She was really excited that she wanted to ride the bus, and I was really nervous to let her ride the bus because she is so little, she looks so little,” said mother Jill Burton of her 7-year-old daughter, Grace Burton, who is in second grade.
“I like it a lot because I've never been in the bus before on the way to school and it's a fun experience,” Grace said. “I'm just going to ride it until the construction on Bangeter is done with one of the bridges.”
Grace also loves riding the bus because she gets to spend more time with her best friend, Abigail Hansen, before and after school.
“We live in the same neighborhood, that's why we are best friends,” Abigal said. “We line up right over there and then we come across here and get on the bus.”
The girls are enjoying the school buses, and parents like Jill Burton said it gives her more time to get ready in the morning.
“It's been really nice just to walk out, walk down the street a little bit, and get on,” Burton said.
The buses will run through October, which is when the new pedestrian bridge is expected to be ready.