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Planning school bus routes around constant construction

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MOORHEAD, Minn.—With constructions sites gumming up metro roadways, riding the bus to school this fall may become a long road trip.

This railroad crossing has been a long-time traffic dilemma for school buses leaving Moorhead High.

Now the 18-month construction of an underpass brings an all new set of challenges, especially when it's just a few blocks away.

With detours constantly changing and roads at the high school getting torn up for utility work, figuring out bus routes can be a daunting task.

"Oh yeah, it's a challenge," said Mike Steffen, Moorhead Public School's Transportation Director. "We've got a lot of things going on."

When planning new routes around this construction, they have to abide by certain rules.

For example, buses are not allowed to back up, so they need access routes that only involve driving forward.

The obvious challenge: How close this is to a high school.

"If it were a middle school or an elementary school, it would be different," Steffen said. "But now you're going to bring in those kids that drive, and now you're going to take out two entrances to the school, then it's going to get tougher."

Bus routes are also a challenge in West Fargo, another treasure trove of orange cones.

"The big one is the Sheyenne street," said Brad Redmond, Transportation Director in West Fargo.

Getting buses around is all about communication with the city.

Fortunately, our school transportation directors in the metro say they're well connected with how these construction sites change.

They're also thinking about what's outside the cone zone too.

"As construction zones like on Sheyenne street happen, there's more traffic on other roadways," Redmond said. "They congest them more. So it's just patience."

Depending on the day, the route and the construction status, the thousands of kids who take the bus may see a 5 to 10 minute delay.

As for teachers, they may have to plan for a few more tardies for first period this year.

WDAY also called the director of Valley Bus, who gave me this simple words of wisdom: "Buses have wheels, so they go around construction."