ADAMS TWP — Mars School District officials are asking PennDOT to review the section of Route 228 where a school bus accident last week injured multiple students.
The accident occurred Sept. 24 when district Bus No. 4 went over an embankment along a section of the road that is currently under construction. There were 40 students aboard the bus at the time of the incident. Six students were sent to area hospitals with minor injuries, while 22 were taken to UPMC Passavant for evaluation. The remaining 12 students left the scene with their parents.
The driver of the bus has not been identified by the district, which uses A.J. Myers & Sons as its transportation provider.
In a letter dated Monday and addressed to PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards, district solicitor Tom King outlined the background of the incident, and indicated the accident could have been worse.
“There were numerous injured students and we consider ourselves lucky that noone (sic) was killed,” the letter reads, in part.
The letter asks PennDOT officials to “immediately send appropriate Transportation Department personnel and consult with the state police and Adams Township Police to determine whether the route now under construction is appropriate and safe for travel by school buses.
“We are particularly concerned that the ongoing construction work and the inclusion of numerous jersey barriers makes the site questionable for school bus traffic,” the letter continues.
The letter acknowledges that the process of rerouting buses will cause “substantial delays” for students, but that safety trumps those issues. The letter was also sent to state police and Adams Township Police, as well as state legislators Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-12th, Sen. Don White, R-41st, and Sen. Scott Hutchinson, R-21st.
In an interview Monday King said there has been a lot of speculation about the incident, which continues to be investigated by Adams Township police. He said while conversations are happening with PennDOT officials, the letter serves to expedite the process of ensuring the safety of students.
“We send a lot of kids and a lot of buses through that construction zone every day,” he said.
The construction project is a major overhaul of the Pittsburgh Street intersection near Mars. The nearly $8 million project began in March and is expected to take about two years to complete.
Work includes road widening and the construction of turn lanes, signal improvements, drainage upgrades and the implementation of a new box culvert.
King said the investigation should include an assessment of whether barrier improvements need to be made and alignments need to be changed. He hopes the investigation will happen soon.