Unpaved roads create problems for Clinton County students

Parents have to walk their children to paved roads to get on the school bus.

Parents are being forced to take their kids farther to the bus stop after school officials in Clinton County say many of the roads are unsafe for school buses.

The roads are so soft that school buses will not even come close to gravel roads. Clinton Prairie Schools near Frankfort told parents in order for their children to ride the bus to school, parents had to bring them to a paved road. A large number of students in the district live on gravel roads.

"I would say this is the worst I have ever drove on it for a gravel road, a mud road. I mean it is dangerous. It will pull your car off the side into the ditch. You never know what it is going to do," said parent Jacob Heyden.

For Heyden's son, Jas, that means he and his mother have to walk about a quarter-mile to the nearest road. He is one of many children that will be meeting the school bus at the nearest paved road to their homes.

"When you first pull down this road after the snow started melting, you would sink in about two or three inches," Heyden said.

Soft gravel roads are not uncommon in Clinton County or any rural Indiana county. Every spring, in order to make the roads at least half-passable, the county highway department smoothes out the roads with a road grader, pulling the gravel back onto the road. But it is, at best, a temporary fix.

"We have a lot of roads that have not only been paved, but have not had any maintenance on them for quite a few years," said Larry Myers, Clinton County Highway Department.

The highway department does not have the money to fix even the paved roads, let alone gravel roads. The operating budget is made up from gasoline taxes and Clinton County has the same budget today as in 2002.

Bringing in more money for road repairs is nowhere in sight.

"People driving less because they cannot afford the gas, so there is less gasoline being purchased, less income for the state, for the counties. It is a snowball effect," Myers said.

That means the Heyden family will have to keep walking the kids to the bus, at least until the roads dry up.

Clinton Prairie Schools are hoping to get the buses back onto regular routes by next week, however with rain coming, the highway department says it will only delay the work that needs to be done.