By MAX FILBY
Findlay drivers may have noticed a little less traffic congestion on Broad Avenue as students went back to school this week.
For the first time, Findlay City Schools has started directing buses onto Howard Street as they leave Millstream Career Center and Findlay High School, instead of having them all exit onto Broad Avenue.
Buses that continue to exit onto Broad will only go straight or make right turns.
The move is helping lower the amount of congestion that has plagued that stretch of Broad for decades, said Jerri Strait, the district’s transportation coordinator.
The district put in an additional drive around the former Washington Elementary School on Broad to allow high school and Millstream buses to get out to Howard Street. Washington now houses the district’s administrative staff and a preschool.
Superintendent Ed Kurt said the new drive made sense and was an easy, “quick fix” to ease the congestion and frustrations drivers were dealing with.
“What was happening is we were bottlenecking so we could only get three or four buses out onto Broad at a time,” Kurt said.
The new routing of buses has cut the amount of time needed for departure down to five to 10 minutes. It was around 15 to 20 minutes the year before, Strait said.
“It would just get so backed up,” Strait said. “We knew something had to change.”
The extra time makes a big difference this year, too, as the high school now gets out 10 minutes later at 2:41 p.m. and bus drivers need to be at elementary schools starting at 3:20 p.m.
“We’re really trying to expedite our buses,” Strait said. “Especially when we’re traveling to all corners of the city and trying to get back to pick up the little people.”
Strait said she expects the departure time could drop even more once construction is finished on the main entrance to the high school. Instead of dropping students off at the main entrance, which will be completed by late October or early November, the doors of the freshman wing have been used as the central entry point to the high school so far this year.
Creating a new traffic pattern around the school during dismissal was also something Strait thought parents would appreciate.
Rather than waiting longer for buses to depart, parents will be able to pick up their students and head home quicker, she said.
To avoid having to deal with buses and congested traffic, parents have grown accustomed to parking on other area streets when picking up students.
“I think it’s definitely made a difference to them with their frustration,” Strait said of the bus rerouting.
Although no estimate is available, the change is also likely to save the district some money, since 16 of its 50 buses won’t be running quite as long each school day, Strait said.
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