The entire project will cost an estimated at $249,000, enhancing student safety at no additional cost to local taxpayers, according to city officials.
“It looks like this project, like the last project, will be completely grant-funded,” said City Engineer John Harris. “We'll get significant improvements without tax dollars being spent.”
Last year, the city improved school routes around Centennial Middle School, widening sidewalks, creating bike lanes and reconfiguring crosswalk entrances, all of it paid for by a Safe Routes to School grant.
This year and last, the city partnered with the Montrose County School District to identify areas that needed to be addressed, Harris said.
One of the main concerns was the intersection of South 12th Street and Park Avenue, in front of Columbine.
“There are parents and cars turning a lot of different ways, and the traffic flow is not appropriate for the amount of traffic on Park and 12th, which causes a lot of traffic issues that can result in a lot of safety issues,” Columbine Principal Ben Stephenson said.
Harris said he knew of at least one accident in that area where a child was struck by a car turning out of the school lot. No serious injuries occurred, but the child was “bruised up,” he said.
Both the city and school district staff observed and recorded safety issues at this intersection, and at the other areas in need of improvement, prior to applying for the grant, Harris said.
The grant money will allow the city to reconfigure the Columbine intersection to create one access road in and out of the school, making it a four-way intersection rather than a five-way, he said.
The project will also construct bulb-outs – sidewalks that extend further into the street than normal, usually at street corners – at both corners of Park Avenue at 12th Street, and in front of the school. Crosswalks also will be reconfigured to improve safety.
“This area was our main concern and priority,” Stephenson said. “We are very happy that it is going to be taken care of.”
The project also includes bulb-outs at the existing school crossing on South 12th Street, and the installation of a pedestrian-activated crossing sign at the bike path crossing at Park Avenue, near South Eighth Street.
“The flashing signs on the bike path will be a great asset to the kids of the community when walking to school,” said Barbara Hunt, the school district's risk manager.
Constructing adequate sidewalks near Pomona Elementary also is on the list.
The plan calls for a 6-foot wide sidewalk on the north side of the school, as well as a 6-foot wide sidewalk near the cul-de-sac of South 10th Street, where students use a walking bridge to get to the east side of the school lot.
The city was awarded the grant in late March; it was administered by the Colorado Department of Transportation. Construction will begin in the summer of 2014, Harris said, because the grant engenders a lot of administrative work, both in the design and review process, that can take more than a year, he said. CDOT will not appropriate the funds until its next fiscal year, which starts in July. Harris said he expects the administrative process to wrap up by the winter of 2013, which means construction won't start until the students are out of school that following summer.
“This is a really exciting thing,” Stephenson said. “It was a real collaborative effort between the school district and the city that will be beneficial to safety and traffic flow. It's a real exciting grant.”