New role, new office: Transportation head dives into traffic tumult


Shun Graves

Todd Bickel serves as Branson’s new transportation director.

By Shun Graves

Branson will add 100 additional students over the next four years, but Todd Bickel might stand as the face of the enrollment boost.

The new transportation director — a novel role itself — sits at the forefront of the historic changes for both enrollment and traffic. He overlooks the main gate from his office in the library’s former computer room.

“Geographically, this is a really nice office for what my job duties entail,” he said.

But the spartan confines of his new office belie the complexity of the new position. Beyond handling parking and the new traffic restrictions, Bickel must oversee a growing fleet of shuttles and transportation for athletics. He must also meet with town leaders and neighbors.

His hiring comes after years of turnover for transportation management. David Hanson, chief financial and operating officer, juggled traffic with his other duties. And before him, various teachers managed traffic alongside teaching.

“We committed to the town that we would hire a director and traffic monitors to ensure safety and proper management of these functions,” Hanson said of the dedicated role Bickel has filled.

Traffic management came easily to Bickel. As principal of a San Jose elementary school, he managed school operations. He once visited Branson for school accreditation and met Hanson, who now no longer manages traffic.

“Todd is a seasoned educator with strong skills in communication, logistics, safety and transportation management and comes to Branson from a school in San Jose where he was responsible for all of these functions and more,” Hanson said.

Soon, as the approval process for the enrollment boost continued, the new role appeared — and Bickel applied.

“One of the things I love is efficiencies and the operations side, so I heard about the new management system that needed to be put in,” he said.

That system has involved numerous new restrictions and monitors for all who drive to Branson. Most prominently, one can only drive to and from campus once a day.

“It’s a mindset shift for all stakeholders,” Bickel said. “Faculty, staff, parents, students — it’s like everybody.”