School bus shortcutting irritates neighborhood

"It's been five months and Ted Carlson said he's had enough of the school buses that use his neighborhood as a shortcut.The longtime Federal Way resident says he wants the buses to stop driving through an emergency gate that connects his street to the northeast section of the Federal Way school district's school bus depot. It's been five months of noise and pollution, said Carlson, a retired Boeing employee. I'd like to see that gate permanently shut.Since late August the district's bus staff have unlocked a chain link fence connecting their depot on South 320th Street to the back corner of South 317th Street and 13th Avenue South The idea, said Transportation Director Jennie Dines, is to compensate for the time drivers lose waiting in road construction delays on South 320th Street.There's still work going on out there, she said. When there's construction and you don't have a free flow of traffic that could delay kids getting to school.Up until recently, the gate - secured by a chain and padlocked to an adjoining pole - had been opened from 6 a.m. until about 5 p.m. on school days. Now, Dines has the gate open from about 11:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.We're going to wean that gate closed as the traffic improves, she said. And we'll eventually close it.But Carlson said his patience is wearing thin.Throughout the months he said he's awakened in the early morning hours to bright bus headlights beaming into his bedroom. His windows vibrate and shake when a bus idles near his house.I don't wake up every time, he said, but damn often.Because he is retired and many of his neighbors are at work when the buses drive through the area, Carlson has had to complain to the district and the city alone.But Dines said she understands Carlson's frustration and points to the fact that the times the gate is open is shrinking. In addition, bus drivers hand delivered letters from the district to neighbors asking for their tolerance over the months while the gate is accessed.I can understand their concern when this will all be over, she said, and it will be soon.And Carlson said he'll too be happy when the buses resume their normal traffic pattern entering and exiting from South 320th Street. But he might have to wait a few more months.City of Federal Way Traffic Engineer Rick Perez said improvements won't likely finish until this spring. "

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