Capital City’s aging infrastructure causes wheels on JPS school bus to fall through pavement

Published: Jan. 24, 2022 at 3:22 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Monday started like any typical morning until Vallena Greer’s granddaughter called her in a panic.

“I got the call a few mins about 7:05 a.m. She was just rambling. I couldn’t understand anything she was saying, but then I heard her bus driver,” Greer said.

The grandmother said the bus driver began to explain the bizarre story.

“Pretty much all my hair stood up on my head. I couldn’t think at that point. I couldn’t believe it,” Greer said. “I was thinking - what is wrong with this - are the streets that bad that you have kids on the bus falling through the ground?”

Greer immediately picked up her granddaughter, Jerresha.

“As soon as I turned on the street directly behind McWillie, I saw the bus in the ground, and water was everywhere,” she said. “My granddaughter was sitting above the tire that plunged into the ground, and she said she thought she was gonna die.”

Greer said her granddaughter, who’s never at a loss for words, was speechless when she picked her up - just staring at the bus.

“It was just a scary feeling for me because I felt like I was going to be crushed and drown,” Jerresha said.

Greer said she’s not surprised that her granddaughter is still shaken up.

“She was sitting on the back seat over the tire that dropped in the ground,” Greer said. “[Jerresha] said she slid up against the window and hit her head. She didn’t know what happened.”

School bus falls in street after asphalt caves in, children OK
School bus falls in street after asphalt caves in, children OK(Vallena Greer)

The school district said, “a water main burst Sunday causing a tremendous amount of water to cover the street. The bus driver was traveling along McWillie Circle, and the asphalt began to cave into a hole.”

JPS says 15 students were on the bus at the time of the incident. Fourteen students boarded another bus, and one student was picked up, the district says.

Thankfully everyone walked away injury-free.

It’s still a harsh reality of the condition of Jackson’s aging infrastructure and Mayor Lumumba said the city doing what it can to address the issue.

“Our collective failure to stand up water infrastructure and all of the things that our residents need reared its head in the ugliest way possible last year February, and that should serve as a wake-up call to all of us that we have to invest now; that this is not just a matter of convenience,” the mayor said in his weekly press briefing. “It’s not just a quality of life - these are necessary resources that people need.”

Lumumba said one of the city’s solutions involves an $8 million water line currently under construction that increases the size and distribution of water to South Jackson residents, improving the area’s water flow.

Another project underway right now, the mayor said, is a shelter that protects sensitive equipment at a water treatment facility.

Meanwhile, Vallena Greer appreciates the city’s efforts, but she’s yet to see or feel them.

“I pay taxes; I just don’t understand how it’s this bad. It’s not just about how the streets look, but it’s dangerous. You don’t know if you’re traveling on a safe street or not.”

She added that she hopes that the city makes state legislators aware of this incident and how close it came to children getting hurt or killed.

“They need to rush that infrastructure money in here, and I hope that the city already has a plan in place so this can hit the ground running,” Greer said. “This can’t continue to happen.”

At the Mayor’s weekly briefing Monday afternoon, he said he’s not sure at this time how much money the city will get from the federal infrastructure package and how that money will be used.

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