Harrison Co students face earlier wake-up calls, longer bus rides

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - On Monday, Volkert Engineering is expected to conduct a full assessment of the Lorraine Road Bridge over the Biloxi River. The bridge shut down July 29 after engineers deemed it unsafe. The move meant some Harrison County school buses and parents lost an easy access to three schools. As students started their first day of school Thursday, the closed bridge affected their morning commute.

The little ones arrived at the bus stop early and some felt those first day jitters.

"I'm excited!" ten-year-old Bailey Duncan exclaimed.

"I don't really like school," said her younger brother, Andrew.

For their mom, it was a different kind of anxiety.

"I'm a little nervous about them riding a little longer than normal, just because this is their first time on the school bus down here. We came from a small school in Missouri. So it was a short time, five to ten minutes on the bus," said Ashley Duncan.

Their bus trip to Woolmarket Elementary will be ten miles longer now that the Lorraine Road Bridge is out of service.  One parent didn't even realize the bridge was closed. She drove up to the structure and had to turn around.

When asked what she was going to do, the woman replied, "I don't know. I guess I'm going to have to figure it out. Do you have any idea?"

Other parents expressed the same frustration over losing this major route to school.

"I was kind of mad really, because that was the quickest way," said Jessica Glascoe.

"I know if we have to go to the school for any reason, if he's sick or pick him up for an appointment, we have to go all the way around or take the interstate. We know it's going to be out for a year. It's going to be a hassle," said Jenny Ashman.

Harrison County bus drivers tried to deal with the detours by arriving earlier than usual to pick-up the children. But, the first wave of buses actually got there at their normal times. And because they had to take longer routes, it took a little longer for some drivers to return and pick-up the D'Iberville High students.

It's a headache drivers and parents will have to put up with until the bridge reopens.

"I don't like having to turn around and go the long way instead of the short way," said Glascoe.

"I was pretty angry knowing we could have had this resolved about a year ago," said Ashman. "I'm hoping maybe they prop it up temporarily until they can get to fixing the bridge."

The school district's transportation director said the drivers handled the route changes well, and they did not miss any children Thursday morning.

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