Parents and community members in Fort Steele are concerned for their children’s safety getting picked up and dropped off by the school bus on Hwy 93/95 at Campsall Road.
Nadine Campsall is a former resident of Campsall Road and is the current president of the Westport Community Group. Westport was the name of the area now known as the Fort Steele flats.
Campsall says the community group was formed out of a need to deal with some of the issues in the area, one of which is highway safety.
She pointed to an incident at the beginning of March between a school bus and an SUV near Campsall Road. Video footage of the situation shows that the SUV nearly missed the school bus while going over the centre line of the road.
At the time, Cranbrook RCMP said it was a “miracle” that no one was injured in the incident.
Campsall says this is just one of many dangerous events that have happened, and the community is fed up.
“We’ve been trying to get a turning lane on Highway 93/95 for years,” Campsall explained. “We’ve been in contact with the Ministry of Transportation and they have told us they are sending a traffic counter out, but nothing has happened. It has been a bit of a roundabout situation for a while.
“This incident [between the SUV and bus] has pushed people over the edge. The kids were so incredibly scared.”
The school bus currently has to stop on the highway to pick up and drop off. The kids also have to wait for their school bus on the side of the busy highway. The intersection of Hwy 93/95 and Campsall Road, where the bus stop is, is located at the bottom of the Fort Steele Hill, which is a large hill with a passing lane.
“Everyone comes flying down that hill,” said Campsall. “And, everyone gears up to get to the top, so you’ve got logging trucks driving full tilt right where the bus stop is.”
Campsall used to take the bus to school herself when she was young. At that time, the bus stop was across the highway, so she had to cross the road every day to get home. She says she nearly “got smoked” by a logging truck when she was a kid.
“For years this has been an issue and we just want to see something done about it. The miracle is that something more serious hasn’t happened sooner as there were problems like this when I was catching the bus way back in the 70’s,” said Campsall, adding that there are around 16 children living in the area, 11 of whom currently take the bus to school.
She says that the local parents are writing a letter to the school board and now they are compiling incident reports.
Another factor that worries the community is snow clearing in the winter.
“The school bus has to turn around in a dangerous place, and that is made two-fold in the winter when the road isn’t cleared,” Campsall said. “We’ve talked to the Ministry, who have talked to Mainroads, yet nothing gets done. A few of the community members will clear the area with their plows or snow blowers when possible, but this shouldn’t be their responsibility.”
The Ministry of Transportation was contacted for comment on this article, but hadn’t responded as of press time.
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