Back roads cause damage to school bus mirrors

REED CITY — Rough conditions on back roads are causing problems for crossover mirrors on Reed City Area Public School buses.

According to RCAPS Facilities Director Paul Lewis, the rough back roads vibrate mirrors and loosens the bolts attaching the mirrors to the bus.

“Vibrations from chatter bumps on the unpaved roads also can brake the brackets that attach the mirror to the bus,” Lewis said.

Approximately 95 percent of the bus routes for RCAPS are on gravel roads.

“We are prepared for this each year,” Lewis said. “We have stock parts so buses are not out of commission for too long, because a bus can’t be on the roads without its mirrors.”

Osceola Road Commission Manager Luke Houlton said the tricky thing about gravel roads is the conditions can change quickly.

“Every time is different when we grade the roads,” Houlton said.

Weather and travel are two factors that affect the condition of a gravel road the most. If the road is too wet or too dry, grading the road could make the road worse.

“It’s sort of a ‘Goldilocks’ comparison, which is our general basic approach to grading our gravels roads,” Houlton said. “It’s a really tough balancing act. We need the right amount of moisture for best grading condition. Too wet road turns to mud, too dry and road doesn’t grade properly.”

Lewis said the commission is very helpful and understanding when it comes to keeping back roads as smooth as possible.

“(Road commission officials) work with us when we call and tell them about a route our busses are having difficulty traveling down,” Lewis said.

The fall was tough for the road commission because too much moisture prevented officials from having gravel roads ready for the winter.

“We don’t have many of our gravel roads in the condition we wanted them before the winter freeze,” Houlton said. “The last several weeks we had too much moisture causing our trucks to leave deeper tracks than the chatter bumps we are trying to grade out.”