City and school officials discuss bus Wi-Fi, roads around Battle High

Thursday, July 11, 2013 | 5:12 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — City and Columbia Public Schools leaders are exploring installing Wi-Fi on school buses and expanding a pilot program that allowed certain high school students to use city buses for free. 

Discussion of these ideas dominated a meeting Thursday of Columbia, Boone County and Columbia Public Schools leaders. These meetings are held several times a year to update officials on joint projects.

One of these projects is called the Kewpie Express, which ran at Hickman High School from April 15 to May 15. It targeted students who don’t drive or qualify to use the school bus.

Dozens of students were provided city bus vouchers that could be used on any bus route. As a requirement for using the pass, students agreed to answer a survey on the usefulness of the passes. After the program ended, students were asked what they liked and disliked about the program.

The district's superintendent Chris Belcher called the Kewpie Express successful and said they received informative student feedback. Belcher said the district would like to reinstate the program and potentially add the service for similar students at Rock Bridge High School.

Offering multiple transportation options can save money for families of students, Mayor Bob McDavid said.

In their feedback, students said adding Wi-Fi would make bus riding more attractive, Belcher said. The district is looking into the idea, he said.

With the addition of Wi-Fi, students also can stay in better contact with their families, McDavid said; for example, students can check bus schedules and text their parents what time they will arrive home.

Roads around Battle

Also on the agenda was an update on road construction around the new Battle High School, 7575 E. St. Charles Road in northeast Columbia.

Belcher said he could not be more pleased with progress of the construction, which will be completed on schedule, he said. That date is Aug. 5.

The construction includes replacement of the Route Z overpass over Interstate 70, a roundabout at Route Z and St. Charles Road and widening of road shoulders by three feet on each side of Route Z between St. Charles Road and the overpass.

Boone County Presiding Commissioner Dan Atwill said he was surprised at the high level of visibility at the roundabout.

Later, Charles Sullivan, resident engineer with the Missouri Department of Transportation, who was not at the meeting, said that the structure of the Route Z overpass is done and that workers have begun adding safety rails.

Most of the roundabout has been finished, Sullivan said. As of Thursday, workers were constructing the connection between the roundabout and St. Charles Road, he said.

Contractors plan to widen the Route Z shoulders beginning next week, Sullivan said. 

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.

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