Home Indiana News Bus violations on Center Street declining

Bus violations on Center Street declining

Warsaw Community Schools Director of Transportation Mark Fick told the Warsaw Traffic Commission on Wednesday that the message board placed on East Center Street near Papa John’s has helped reduce the number of stop-arm violations in the area. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.
By David Slone

WARSAW — Stop-arm violations at the Papa John’s school bus stop on East Center Street in Warsaw have improved because of education and signage, the Warsaw Traffic Commission heard at its meeting Wednesday.

Warsaw Community Schools Director of Transportation Mark Fick gave the Commission an update on the bus stop in the westbound lane of East Center Street since their last meeting Nov. 2. The Commission has been discussing the stop at length for a number of months.

“Before Nov. 3, we had 110 stop-arm violations throughout the county; 61 after Nov. 3, so Nov. 3 to present day, we’ve had 61 violations. Twenty-nine stop-arm violations were sent to the prosecuting attorney; six were from Papa John’s, so our number has decreased dramatically from when (Warsaw Police Department) Capt. (Joel) Beam put up the sign that says ‘All Traffic Must Stop,’” Fick said.

Since then, he said they’ve had a total of 13 stop-arm violations and six were sent to the prosecuting attorney because they were able to get license plate numbers for them.

“The process that we did as far as educate and go into problem-solving – now I think we just have to be able to sustain that area the way it is,” Fick said.

He said one family moved out of that area behind Papa John’s but four moved in so 11 students now are being picked up at the bus stop.

“I think the education side really helped, and the idea of putting the ‘All Traffic Must Stop’ sign out there has got me looking at other stops now where I’ve had other violations at. But, total throughout the county, right now, we’re at 171 stop-arm violations since the start of school and we have 180 days of school,” Fick said.

Public Works Superintendent Dustin Dillon asked Fick to clarify if when he was talking about the “All Lanes Must Stop When A School Bus Stops” sign if he was talking about the sign the Warsaw Street Department put up or the message board sign that Beam put up. Fick said the message board that Beam put up “dramatically” stopped the stop-arm violations “right off the bat.”

Commission member and Council President Jack Wilhite asked what the message board looked like. Beam said it’s the same as a speed board sign but he can put messages on it to warn drivers. Fick said the messages on the board run from 3:30 to 3:50 and 4 to 4:15 p.m. in the eastbound lane.

“It’s really visible. I see it right away,” Commission member and Councilwoman Cindy Dobbins said.

Dillon said the message board is right under the sign the Street Department put up that says “All Lanes Must Stop When A Bus Stops.”

Wilhite asked if the message board was going to be permanent there. Beam said it is not a permanent solution because he will have to use it elsewhere eventually to do speed counts.

Traffic Administrator Lance Grubbs said it may get people used to stopping in all lanes when a bus stops.

Wilhite said he understands it’s not feasible for a school bus to drive in the housing development behind Papa John’s, but he asked if the school corporation ever entertained the idea of using a 15-passenger van to pick up the students there. He said he understood it would be a little more costly per student.

“Vans, we can’t transport students in,” Fick said. As for activity buses, which have seating for 15 passengers, he said those are used for special needs students. The activity buses also can only go driveway to driveway and can not let students out on the side of the road. He also said he can’t dedicate one bus to go just to that area to pick up those students and take them to school because of costs. “We’ve played around with that, but if I do it there, then I’ve got to look at other ones.”

Fick pointed out that the Papa John’s bus stop has been there “forever.”

He also said the road behind Papa John’s is often blocked.

Wilhite said he’s had people approach him and tell him that unless they put stop arms across the entire street, there’s always going to be violations.

City Planner Justin Taylor asked Fick if they’ve ever looked at using the Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts’ parking lot to pick up and drop off students. Fick said they’ve considered it but there’s problems with lighting, safety and accessibility.

“It’s just a unique area. It just is,” Fick said.

Grubbs said, “So, at present, the safest way is the way it’s going right now.” Fick agreed.

“Well, we’re glad that there’s progress,” Grubbs said.

the next traffic commission meeting will be at 1 p.m. Feb. 1 in the Warsaw Council Chambers in City Hall.