January 18, 2022

Parents press bus stop safety concerns

DOVER-FOXCROFT – A group of Atkinson Road residents whose children wait near a curve off Route 15 for bus transport say their safety concerns are being ignored.

The small group of parents say they have asked, pleaded and petitioned individual SAD 68 directors unsuccessfully to get the district to send a bus down Atkinson Road, formerly known as Dyer Road, to pick up six children.

The parents plan to press the issue with the full SAD 68 board of directors on Dec. 3.

SAD 68 school officials say they have addressed the bus stop issue and remain committed to the current location.

In a letter to the families, SAD 68 Superintendent John Dirnbauer said the Buildings, Grounds, Transportation and Food Services Committee and the Policy Committee discussed the request and found that the current bus stop is safe and meets the requirements of current board policy.

The lack of action concerns the three families, as well as resident Judy Ellery, who lives on the curve next to the school bus stop and has seen her share of accidents, including one that nearly killed her.

Ellery was outside her home several years ago when an elderly man lost control of his vehicle and struck her. She literally was knocked out of her boots and thrown into the windshield of his vehicle.

Ellery was treated for multiple broken bones and deep lacerations.

In recent weeks, another elderly driver who was returning home from Bangor stepped on the accelerator when she fell asleep at the wheel and landed in a field near the curve, taking a road sign and an apple tree with her.

In addition, Ellery said there are motorists who ignore the 45-mph speed limit sign.

“People speed wicked by here and some of the worst offenders are the big trucks,” she said Thursday. Although her children are grown, she, too, wants some other arrangement for the children.

Dover-Foxcroft police have met with a Department of Transportation official who agreed to post more speed signs at the entrance to the curve.

“If people obeyed the speed limit there, it would take a lot of the danger out of it,” said Sgt. Joel Cyr on Thursday. He said police plan to patrol the area more during bus runs.

Jennie Chase, SAD 68 board chairman and transportation director, said the safest spot for the bus stop – other than moving it farther down Route 15 to the cemetery turnaround – is right where it is because the bus driver can see for a mile behind the bus.

If the bus were to go down Atkinson Road, the driver would have no idea what was coming around the curve, she said.

While there have been several accidents on that stretch of road, Chase said she knew of none that involved a school bus.

That does little to comfort Jim Ellis, who serves as spokesman for the group.

He said the issue is not a new one, because he expressed his concern to school officials seven years ago to no avail. At that time, he said he was told that the road was not wide enough for a bus and was too dangerous.

This past summer, however, the town widened and improved the road so that is not an issue, Ellis said.

So there is no excuse now, he said.

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