Progress slow on proposed 8th Street bus lane

Bailey Kish

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Plans released over the summer show a two-lane bus lane that snakes around the back of the stadium from and entrance on 8th Street

Plans released over the summer show a two-lane bus lane that snakes around the back of the stadium from and entrance on 8th Street

If you’ve ever tried to drive down 8th Street in the morning, you are part of the problem.

Don’t worry, you haven’t done anything wrong. More accurately, you are one of the reasons Atlanta Public Schools is planning to construct a permanent bus lane on 8th Street.

All students who currently ride the bus are dropped off on 8th Street. The buses block an entire lane of the street, an arrangement that is technically illegal. After the construction of the bike lane on 10th Street last year, many people began using 8th Street as a way to bypass the frequent traffic jams in front of Grady. This created more traffic on 8th street, and, as a result, issues with morning drop-off procedures. In addition, any students who are dropped off by parents on 8th Street must cross between frequently heavy traffic.

The plan for a bus lane on 8th Street was originally introduced in a safety meeting in last November, when parents petitioned for its construction with a good deal of support from the administration. At that time, David Propst , Vice Principal, said he was unsure of where construction would take place, or how long the project would take. Very little was heard about the project until the Local School Council meeting in April, where Jere Smith, the Director of Capital Improvement at Atlanta Public Schools (APS), reported that plans were in motion, but the bus lane would not be finished by August. Smith oversees projects like this from start to finish, working with the city, the community and contractors on all APS construction projects.

“Last year was a monitoring phase,” Sharon Bray, Local School Council president said. ”But we’d like to see some action soon.”

At the first Local School Council meeting of the year, the members of the council expressed nearly unanimous frustration at the lack of updates from the APS facilities department on the status of the project.

“Somebody’s doing something, somebody’s talking about it, but they’re not talking to us,” Renee Steckl, council member said. “Nobody will tell us what is going on.”

During the meeting, Propst said that trees on 8th Street had already been marked for removal, and the project was in its final steps before construction begins, adding that they were “waiting on the money.”

Local School Council member and literature teacher Mario Herrera stated many teachers were unaware of any proposal to put a bus lane on 8th Street.

“There was some shock,”Herrera said. ”I had no idea some of this was going on.”

Current plans for the bus lane include the enlargement of the current paved area next to the 8th Street entrance, leading to a two-lane road that will snake around the back of the stadium, behind where the stadium scoreboard currently is, ending in a small parking lot, currently a gravel lot.

Jere Smith stated that the focus of the project so far has been getting the correct permits for construction, as well as working closely with the city and engineering firms to ensure a safe build. This is all necessary due to the unique sewer system beneath Grady. A large majority of the sewers of the surrounding neighborhood run directly underneath Grady, making any construction project on the grounds much more complex. Because of this, any lane will not be opened until at least the end of the current school year, Smith said.

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