By Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta
The new Gregory School bus lane, bus drop-off, and pick up lane, was complete just as the new school year began.
The newly-installed driveway for buses only is located in front of the school. Buses will enter and exit the driveway heading north on Gregory Avenue. The former bus drop, located on Lowell Avenue, has become the Kiss and Go lane for morning drop-offs and afternoon pick-ups.
Gregory School parents received an instruction letter in their welcome packets, which outlined the Kiss and Go procedure.
In addition to the new driveway, the retaining wall on the right side of the exit, onto Walker Road, had been replaced. And the parking lot was renovated and repaved. It now provides 18 new spaces.
The project cost $364,862 and was funded by the Township of West Orange. The project contract was awarded to JTG Construction on June 14.
According to Superintendent of West Orange Schools Jeff Rutzky, one month into the new school year, it’s working very well.
Prior to the new lane, busses had to pass in front of the school on Gregory Avenue twice – once going in to drop off the kids on Lowell and once more leaving. With the new plan, a bus only crosses in front of Gregory once.
Also, the new plan helps to alleviate traffic problems and increases security.
“We used to have the front of the school, Gregory Avenue and Lowell Avenue in the back,” Rutzky said. “The buses and where the parents dropped kids off were on the same street. We had some opportunities where kids would be crossing over Lowell Avenue to get on the school property. For years, many parents have complained to schools, to the mayor, to police. We were looking at this and trying to make it safer for students and parents and community members.”
Continuing, Rutzky said, “The Town Council approved that we would have changes to change the Kiss and Go by building a bus-cut in the front of the school. Parents are able to be up on Lowell Avenue, we have a nice long Kiss and Go, and let kids get out as they pull up to the side of the curb. It’s so much more safe now and more smooth. We’re able to really separate the buses and cars.”
Gregory School is the only school that had a new bus lane put in because it was the only one that had a problem.
Rutzky said, “All schools are unique. We have seven elementary schools; two do not have busing – the entire school population are walkers since they live so close to school. Others have a nice, safe plan. They don’t have buses and cars intermingling.”
The project was officially approved by the West Orange Planning Board last June. The project took about eight weeks to complete, starting in early July and ending in August.
Rutzky said, “We finished in time to have school open with it in place.”