On the surface, it seemed to have the makings of a major distraction for young students - dump trucks rolling in and out while large pieces of equipment removed and installed street pavement. But Mark Twain Elementary School Principal Karen Wheelan reports the work underway Wednesday around the school was posing no problem for children.
“We went all year last year with construction going on down the hill. The kids are doing really well,” she said.
Even as a milling machine was chewing up the old pavement on Bird Street and a paver was putting down a new asphalt surface on Hill Street, youngsters at recess on the new playground weren’t giving the nearby proceedings a second glance.
With her students focused on learning, Wheelan was more concerned about the safe dispersal of the children at the end of the day.
“It’s probably will be pretty congested and a little hectic during dismissal time,” said the principal, who anticipated Wednesday being the biggest challenge. “Tomorrow (Thursday) and Friday Hill Street is going to be open.”
The biggest challenge was expected to be parent traffic “because we do have so many kids who are car riders,” said Wheelan. “We only have two buses that come in and out of Mark Twain. The buses aren’t going to be an issue. It will be all the cars.”
To help reduce potential confusion at dismissal time, parents were being asked to come into the school building and meet their child.
“We felt it would be better just to have them (parents) go ahead and park and walk into the school to their child’s classroom, that way they can walk out of the school with their parents,” said Wheelan. “We felt that was probably the safest route to go instead of us having all 350 kids going outside wondering where their parents are parked.”
By 11 a.m., the removal of the old road surface on Hill Street had already been completed.
“We’re just waiting on the asphalt,” said Brian Chaplin, project manager for the city. “My hope is to have this side done by the time school is dismissed today.”
According to Chaplin, because only a couple of vehicles had to be moved by their owners Wednesday morning, little time was lost waiting for the streets to be cleared before work could begin.
The repaving project is expected to wrap up on Friday.