PLYMOUTH, Iowa - While we're still a ways out, the harsh cold of winter is just around the corner. And a North Iowa community wants to make sure their students are sheltered from the inclement weather.
Plymouth serves as a bus hub for Central Springs students; in addition to dropping off students that live in or near town, many buses that ferry kids to and from Nora Springs and Manly stop in town to pick up and transfer students at the corner of Broad and Main.
One big concern about this intersection though, is that Broad Street (also known as Thrush Avenue) sees a lot of traffic on it daily, with some motorists ignoring the stop signs and signals that are there.
"We did a walk audit there and we saw about 70% of the cars not obeying the stop sign. When you think about kids waiting there for a bus and the traffic maybe not paying attention, we wanted to highlight a way to make sure that people were aware that this is a bus stop," Kelli Gerdes, health promotion manager with CG Public Health, says.
With colder temperatures on the way, Plymouth students don't exactly have an ideal, centralized shelter to stay warm while waiting for buses.
"Right now, students stand outside of the post office waiting for the bus. During the wintertime, a lot of times they'll huddle inside the post office, which is not ideal. That's why we'd like to have a shelter specifically for them."
The idea for an enhanced, modernized bus stop came as part of the department working with communities in the county on outdoor environment projects in order to encourage more physical activity and nutrition. The town applied for a Community Envisioning Project with Iowa Living Roadways last year, with traffic safety being one key area to focus on. In addition, CG Public Health has been awarded a $10,000 Arts Build Communities Grant from the Iowa Arts Council to design the stop.
In addition, art students from Central Springs, and grad students from the Colleges of Art and Engineering at the University of Iowa are partners in the design of the stop, which included feedback from students and residents, and will include conveniences and necessities, such as charging stations for phones powered by solar panels, as well as an interior heating element for kids to stay warm, to the exterior like aesthetically pleasing art work and landscaping.
"It's a neat way to see all these different partners work together to create something for the students there."
Mayor Cecil Kuhlers says the stop's location is key.
"They'll meet on Main Street, they'll do their exchange. That's why we wanted to keep it to the east side of Broad Street so students didn't have to go on Broad at all."
He too is excited to see what's being tossed around.
"With their involvement, they have a little bit of their own...blood and guts in it. Pardon the term."
The cost of the project has not yet been determined, and is expected to be revealed after students finish revising and refining the plan. Local contractors have already come forward to donate materials and labor for the project.
Gerdes anticipates completion of the stop by next summer.
The stop would replace a wooden gazebo that is starting to deteriorate due to its wooden foundation. Kuhlers says there is talk of moving it to Old School Park.