With significant road construction causing traffic jams near Warren Township High School's freshmen- sophomore campus in Gurnee, officials this summer urged parents not to drive their children to classes at the start of the school year.
After two weeks of school, Gurnee-based Warren District 121's numbers for student bus use show parents took the advice.
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Tina Delabre, District 121's transportation director, said 145 more students are taking buses to the O'Plaine campus this year compared to 2013-14. That's an average of four extra students per bus.
"I have noticed, looking at routes and having to make some adjustments, that we are running pretty heavy and pretty full buses out of the O'Plaine campus this year," Delabre said. "And I do believe it was from the construction and our encouragement to have parents have their students take our buses."
Traffic is down to one lane in each direction on Grand Avenue for reconstruction of a bridge over the Des Plaines River, just east of Route 21. The work is projected to continue through 2015.
Warren's roughly 2,150-student freshmen-sophomore campus is on O'Plaine Road just south of Grand Avenue. The bridge sits between Route 21 and O'Plaine Road, east of the Tri-State Tollway.
Delabre said about 1,400 students are busing to the campus this year. The increase reflects well on their parents, she added.
District 121 officials sent a letter to parents over summer break urging them to skip driving their teenagers to the O'Plaine Road campus because of the construction.
Warren's school buses have been mostly avoiding Grand Avenue and Route 21 when taking students to O'Plaine or the Almond Road campus for juniors and seniors, located on Gurnee's west side. Washington Street, south of Grand, is part of the alternate route. Bus schedules were adjusted so students are picked up 10 minutes earlier in the morning to compensate for potential construction delays.
Also located near the Grand Avenue construction is Gurnee Elementary District 56's Viking Middle School, where classes began Wednesday.
Superintendent John Hutton said there were no problems on the first two days getting children to and from Viking. Transportation Director Alex Stewart routed buses away from the construction, he said.
About 24,600 vehicles a day use Grand Avenue east of the tollway in Gurnee, according to a 2013 Illinois Department of Transportation traffic count.