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Appleton urges Five Town CSD to stop bus route on Town Hill Road

By Gabriel Blodgett | Nov 01, 2019
Photo by: Gabriel Blodgett The Appleton Select Board is urging the Five Town CSD to stop buses from travelling on Town Hill Road.

Appleton — The Appleton Select Board approved a letter to the Five Town CSD requesting that the district stop operating a school bus on Town Hill Road out of safety concerns, at the Oct. 29 meeting.

The letter, which was sent to Superintendent Maria Libby, School Board Chair Rebecca Flanagan and Director of Transportation Julie Waters, cited two primary safety concerns regarding the road.

The first is that the “narrow, S-curve section, when filled with the length of a bus, does not allow room for another vehicle,” and the second is that “the intersection of Route 131 and Town Hill Road presents a visibility issue for entering traffic.”

The letter goes on to note “it is important to note that Appleton Village School Board members have NEVER allowed bus travel on this road due to safety concerns.”

Instead, students have been picked up and dropped off either at the top of the road at the intersection of Appleton Ridge Road or at the bottom at the intersection of Route 131, according to Select Board Chair John Fenner.

The letter, which was signed by Fenner and Road Commissioner Jacob Boyington, urged the transportation director to “reevaluate the shortcomings and safety concerns of such a decision.”

When reached via email for comment, Waters responded, “after talking with Jacob Boyington, Appleton road commissioner on Oct. 7 about driving on the road he expressed his concerns about winter driving only.” She continued, “I specifically asked about driving during the spring and fall regarding safety issues and he had no concerns. The district made the decision to purchase a van to transport these students from Dec. 1st- April 1st-and longer if needed due to weather concerns.”

At the Oct. 8 Select Board meeting, Boyington said he had been in contact with Waters who informed him that the school district had the ability to tell the bus not to use the road in inclement weather.

Boyington said he agreed to the general idea, provided that the central office was able to effectively make that decision.

He added, however, “the weight of the bus is not enough to go up or down in any amount of snow.”

Resident Danielle Gould noted that the weather in Camden is often different than in Appleton and that when she drove the high school bus route there were several times where she would already have picked up students when a delay was announced and she would have to park on the side of the road for the duration of the delay.

Fenner also expressed skepticism about the ability of the central office to make a determination on inclement weather in Appleton.

At the Oct. 8 meeting, the board decided to consider possible next steps, eventually settling on the letter.

As further evidence of their belief that the road is unsafe for buses, the letter states that the volume of logging and semi-tractor truck traffic on Route 131 has increased significantly in recent years, as has the number of speeding tickets issued near the intersection.

The letter concludes, “as municipal officers we cannot reiterate enough that the steep incline and blind spot intersection between Route 131 and Town Hill Road are not conducive to stopping a loaded school bus — in any weather.”




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