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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of May 15 - 21, 2002


Bus barn simulation held for wary neighbors

Express Staff Writer

A group of Woodside residents joined school board members and school district officials Saturday morning near the southeast side of the existing Wood River High School science wing to see what it might be like if increased bus traffic occurred in the Hailey neighborhood.

Saturday morning, neighbors and school district staff listen and sniff during an enactment of what a bus barn scenario might be like if approved for the Woodside site near the new high school. Transportation Director Rex Squires, third from right, and Superintendent Jim Lewis, second from right, were among those present to talk with residents. Express photo by David N. Seelig

It’s there that a proposed Transportation Facility—or bus barn—would be built if approved by school board trustees.

An enactment was held to see what the noise level and fumes might be if the bus barn were built on the proposed site.

Rex Squires, transportation director, put two yellow school buses end to end to simulate a berm that would hide the facility from the neighborhood to the west. Behind those buses he parked four more buses side by side. He started all the buses and let them idle. He also backed up a bus to give a decibel reading on the beeps of a warning bell. There would ultimately be approximately 25 buses housed at the site, though only 17 make daily routes. Four buses were chosen for the enactment since on any given day only four would be idling concurrently, Squires said.

The group stood to the west of the site in the soccer field and compared notes on noise, fumes and visuals.

Many of the neighbors had brought their dogs with them, which, for a change, created a friendly atmosphere between the two camps. The former superintendent of the school district, Phil Homer, was also in attendance.

The noise level of the buses idling read in the low 60s on the decibel scale. When Jim Lewis, current school superintendent, spoke, his voice measured at 70 decibels. The school bell rang and it also measured 70 decibels. The back-up warning beep measured in the mid-60s. Noise from an airplane taking off from nearby Friedman Airport wasn’t measured but it was a good deal louder than the buses.

A decibel reading higher than 92 is considered detrimental to hearing.

The fumes were unnoticeable for the most part until the wind changed direction, and then very slightly.

Neighbors are encouraging the board to look at other options for the facility, though many of those sites have been analyzed and rejected already. Without another bond passed, the money for the facility—on a site where more land would need to be leased or bought—simply isn’t there in the current budget, Lewis said at a public meeting May 7 at the middle school.

One idea presented by Steve Keefer, one of the Woodside neighbors, is to exchange the land currently planned for tennis courts for the bus barn site. The difference in these sites is location and space. The location of the tennis courts is behind the school to the west near the planned football field. It is .85 of an acre and, according to Keefer’s plans, 18 buses could be parked there.

The proposed site south of the science wing is approximately 4 acres. The plans for the facility call for it to be 420 feet long.

"We feel that there would be no need to expand it in the future," Lewis said. There is more room for parking and a bus turn around, and, most importantly, there is space for snow removal, Lewis said.

Where currently being proposed, the bus barn would also be immediately adjacent to the addition on the science wing, where the bus maintenance would be housed along with technology, student and food services. Consolidating all these services in one location is one of the district’s main aims for this proposal.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.