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West Ward Parents Seek Safer Bus Stop

Parents say unsafe situation has unfolded at bus stop at 14th and Lehigh streets.

On school days, part of Bert Godshalk's routine involves standing in the middle of Lehigh Street and stopping traffic.

It's not that he wants to. He says he has to. Otherwise, it's not safe for his grandson to get off the bus from Paxinosa Elementary.

Godshalk and other parents say the situation at the 14th and Lehigh streets bus stop needs to change. 

Three different factors -- speeding cars, no crossing guard and a southbound bus on 14th Street dropping off kids outside the sight-line of cars traveling east on Lehigh -- have them worried it's only a matter of time until someone gets hurt.

"It's not that there's even a lot of cars," but that they're moving so quickly, says Karen Godshalk, Bert's daughter. "Sometimes, they're going so fast, they don't even see the bus."

At least seven times this year, the Godshalks have seen drivers run through the stop sign the bus puts out when it stops to let kids on and off the bus.

When that happens, bus drivers can report it, said Lt. Matthew Lohenitz of the Easton Police traffic and records division.

"We get them pretty regularly," he said. "They'll get a vehicle registration and a plate. But it's hard to ID the driver."

If the bus driver does spot the driver who went through their stop sign, and has plate information, then what happens next plays out a lot like a scene you've witnessed on countless cop shows. They sit the bus driver down and show him or her a photo lineup.

"If they can pick the person out, then we can cite," Lohenitz said.

He said he was unaware of any complaints about 14th and Lehigh, but suggested parents who were concerned make an official complaint with police. In the past, Lohenitz said, the department has stationed patrol cars at problem bus stops.

Back at 14th and Lehigh, the bus pulled up, and Bert Godshalk walked into the street. Another woman, Lynette Steckel, did the same thing, stopping cars until her daughter got to their car. She's been doing this for three years, she said.

The cars headed east on Lehigh stopped. Some days, Karen Godshalk said, they just go around.

Ronnie DelBacco October 04, 2012 at 11:17 AM
About 15 years ago we had a very similar problem at the bus stop just up the street at 14th and Ferry Sts. I contacted the Mayors office at the time and spoke with his assistant, Mike somebody. After two weeks of back and forth I found out that all elementary school bus stops are supposed to have a paid crossing guard. At least it was the law then. The Mayor's office was concerned about the children and in very short order the following thing happened to make the stop safer. 1. They sent a patrol car to that bus stop every morning for a couple weeks to ticket cars parked too close to the corners obstructing views. 2. They had fresh crosswalk and stop lines painted around all four corners. 3. They placed a paid crossing guard at the stop. 4. They re-routed the bus to come up Ferry street and stop in the intersection blocking all four directions while loading and unloading students. 5. They even followed up later to make sure the changes were working...and they were working GREAT! I would suggest the parents take these changes to Mayor Panto and see if he is just as concerned about child safety and willing to get these things done at 14th and Lehigh Sts. I think he would be since it would further promote his "Clean and Safe" initiatives.

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