The combination of a major accident, cold weather and snarled bus routes led administrators of one local school district to delay opening Wednesday, an experience they’re hoping will help them handle similar situations in the future.
The morning began with a major intersection in Guilderland blocked. It began just before 2 a.m. after a pickup truck and tractor-trailer collided. The intersection was closed most of the day.
Guilderland school officials had to work fast once it became clear the intersection wouldn’t open in time for the morning commute. Buses needed to be rerouted and children otherwise would soon be at freezing bus stops. School would have to be delayed two hours.
“The intersection of routes 155 and 20 is really a center hub of the district,” said Christine Sagendorf, district transportation supervisor. The extra time was needed to prevent cascading delays in picking up students. “This time of year we can’t have kids standing out in the cold,” she said.
The effects of the morning accident were felt throughout the day as the intersection remained closed until 5 p.m.
The accident happened at 1:55 a.m. when a McLane Food Service tractor-trailer and a Global Industrial Services pickup truck collided. The semi was sent into the traffic light support and a telephone pole.
Both vehicles sustained severe damage. Both drivers were taken to Albany Medical Center Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, authorities said. Hazardous materials crews were called in to clean up spilled fuel.
But untangling the mangled wreckage and fixing the utility poles and traffic lights fixed proved time consuming. Residents who normally head into Albany via Route 20 had to find alternate routes. Eastbound traffic was routed through the intersection north onto Route 155 by later in the morning. The evening commute home was also slowed.
Businesses in the area were also hit. The 24-hour CVS on the corner remained open, despite the accident. Customers, however, had a difficult time getting in. All the entrances were blocked and part of the parking lot was used as a staging area for responding accident crews. Some customers got through.
Once the Guilderland school officials made their decision, getting the word out and preventing children from unnecessarily having to stand in the cold was still difficult, Sagendorf said, as the delay was not expected.
The weather was cold, but not enough for parents to expect school to be delayed. Once students got to school, the ride home was also delayed, with officials trying to get the word out to parents that children could be home later than normal.