March 12, 2009

Garrison bus drivers coping well

Winter’s challenge
Garrison bus drivers coping well
The winter of 2008-09 will certainly be remembered long after the last patches of snow and ice melt away.
Less than a week ago, temperatures were above the freezing mark, and spring seemed within reach. That was then! Temperatures have once again plummeted and brisk winds have prompted wind-chill warnings. Those are just the conditions that forced the Garrison School District to cancel three days of classes – so far. And, on a handful of other days, school busses ran late or not at all.
Dennis Eslinger, bus coordinator for the Garrison School District, discussed challenges faced by the district’s bus drivers over the past several months. He also expressed concern that the spring warm-up will pose additional problems.
Over the past months, in addition to coping with record snowfall (officially 70.5 inches in Garrison), the district’s bus drivers have dealt with ice, wind and reduced visibility due to blowing snow.
Eslinger said several bus drivers have gotten stuck while driving their routes, often after fresh snowfall when they need to “find the road.”
Rick Wadholm, a first-year driver, said he relates well to the problem of fresh snow. “It’s white on white with no tracks to follow.” Noting that ditches are filled with snow, he added. “It’s all level; with an inch of fresh snow, you can’t see where the road is.”
Roadways don’t always blend into the ditches, however. In some areas the wind has caused huge snowdrifts to block the roads. “There’s quite a formidable snowdrift that forms on the road to Fort Stevenson,” Wadholm said. Assigned to the south bus route, Wadholm admitted to being stuck several times. The incidents don’t bother his students, however. “The kids really love it,” Wadholm said.
Even roads that have been cleared of snow can make for a bumpy ride. Eslinger said snow removal equipment can leave roadways “almost like railroad tracks” by driving crisscross during snow removal.
At time, however, roads have been completely blocked by snowdrifts.

The Weather Network