CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Earlier this week, more than 80 families living near Garrison Avenue in Charleston were told they'd have to find alternate school transportation for their students because the road could not support the weight of a school bus.
By Thursday afternoon, officials with Kanawha County Schools and the city of Charleston had brought that number of affected families down to less than 15, citing a misunderstanding -- but they still had no long-term solution for the problem.
Although signs warning of a 5-ton weight limit have been posted along parts of Garrison Avenue for more than a year, according to City Engineer Chris Knox, school transportation officials did not notice the signs until recently.
"We hadn't received any notice of it, or I guess our drivers did not observe it or report it, and now we know we have a problem," said George Beckett, head of transportation for Kanawha County Schools.
It's a problem because the county's empty school buses weigh 10 tons each. When filled with students, they weigh 16.5 tons each, Beckett said.
Charleston Mayor Danny Jones gave the school system permission to continue running the bus route along Garrison Avenue until Thursday, the last day of the semester, Beckett said. Kanawha County Schools sent an automated voice message to parents Wednesday evening, warning them of potential changes to the bus route.
The issue is with a section of the roadway that stretches for about nine-tenths of a mile, from the mouth of Garrison Avenue to Pacific Street, according to Knox.
That area cannot sustain more than 5 tons because of a corroding culvert that was installed in the early 1970s, according to Knox.
The city repaired the bottom of the culvert this summer by filling it with sand to stop the corrosion, though, and the weight limit is just a precaution, the engineer said.
"We're not worried about the pipe failing," Knox said. "It's just a precaution as the backfill settles into the voids that have been created over the years."