56th Street receives needed paving

Work continues to create major back-ups at school entrance

Traffic backs up every day before and after school due to the months-long repaving project on East 56th Street.

Mary Stempky

Traffic backs up every day before and after school due to the months-long repaving project on East 56th Street.

Sara Kress, Culture Co-Editor

When senior Myra Miller first saw the construction on 56th Street, she had mixed emotions. “I was glad that they were finally paving the road because the roads were awful, but I was kind of concerned because school was starting within two weeks. I knew the traffic was going to be horrible if they didn’t get (the construction) finished by then,” Miller said.

Miller’s worries proved to be justified; the construction was still in progress by the time the school year began, causing an increase in traffic. Miller said, “(The repaving) slightly angers me because I have to leave my house 10 minutes earlier because the traffic adds ten minutes to my commute to school.”

President Mr. Rob Bridges advocates for students to leave their houses earlier in order to avoid the traffic. “We don’t have a lot of control over the construction, but we do have control over when we get up and when we leave the house,” he said. Bridges has adjusted his own schedule in order to circumvent the traffic.

He said, “(My family is) leaving the house by 6:45 every day. The side effect is that we’re not stuck in traffic, we get here early, we don’t have to rush and I get to go to daily mass most mornings.”

The construction was initially scheduled to begin at the start of summer, and the school had requested that the repaving be completed by August 1. However, the construction process had some bumps in the road that prolonged the process.

“They started working the third week of July. They tore up the median, and it took about three to four days and we thought, ‘Oh, that’s good, they’re starting,’ but then they stopped. It was stopped for one week, and then it was stopped for two weeks. That’s when people started to get aggravated because school was a week away,” Bridges said. “I was probably like everybody else, I assumed the worst.”

With a week to go until the first day of school, Bridges decided that it was time to receive some information. “We got ahold of the contractor and the department of public works, and we had a couple of parents who had connections at the mayor’s office, so we were able to get to the person in charge and communicate, which is always best,” he said.

Bridges learned that when the construction workers dug up the median, they discovered a substance underneath the pavement that they had not expected. This substance led to major problems because the new concrete would not adhere to it. The department of public works then had to have a series of meetings about the issue and how to proceed with the construction, which caused the delay.

“They just didn’t let us know initially, and so I think it was frustrating,” Bridges said.

Now that Bridges has reached out, however, he receives daily updates on the construction. “The whole thing is supposed to take fourteen days, not weekends and not rain days. (Construction) will be done sometime within the next two weeks I would think,” Bridges said.

Communication was the game changer for Bridges, he said. “We just had to work a little bit to find (the connections) and just stay on them and to express to them how this is a real difficulty and safety issue.”

The safety concern stemmed mostly from parents dropping off students in the street and then walking up the Hill to school. “I think once (the department of public works) heard this, they realized they couldn’t have kids walking in the street and being in a dangerous situation because that would be kind of on them. Children and safety usually get people’s attention,” Bridges said.

Even though the construction is an inconvenience to many people at the moment, once 56th Street is repaved, all drivers will benefit. Bridges said, “It will just be a smoother ride. It will be less damaging for people’s cars, and it will be safer coming into the school. I mean last year, people would swerve to miss a pothole and you could hit another car, or you could hit a person walking on the side of the road, so it will just be a smoother, more safe ride.”

Bridges said, “It takes a little work to call your leaders and express your opinions and sometimes you get some results. We feel we did.”