Grant-funded safe routes around Sunset Elementary in Airway Heights are on hold until next year.
City Planner Derrick Braaten said bids for the project came back $65,000 over the engineer’s estimate, and were put on hold until next year, with the hope of a lower bid. As a result, the projected construction start date is around early April, if everything goes according to plan.
While funds have been approved by the state Legislature since 2010, the city wasn’t released to spend the funds until this year. The project is expected to cost of $324,492. Up to $305,000 will be spent in engineering, with the rest going toward educational materials for students and residents.
The safe routes grant was a collaboration between the city’s planning and parks, recreation and community services departments. J.C. Kennedy, parks, recreation and community services director, wrote the original grant application for the 2010 approval, and is an integral part in the overall process
“J.C. did a lot for getting the grant approved,” Braaten said.
The safe routes area largely exists on King and Lawson streets between Eighth Avenue and 12th Avenue. Sidewalks and crosswalks will be added along the roadways. In addition, a pedestrian-activated crossing sign will go in at the King and Lawson intersections at 12th Avenue.
Braaten said speeding has been a prolific problem in the area, as both roads have heavy amounts of traffic in the morning. When members of the Department of Transportation visited for their site review, the need for safer routes was immediately visible.
“In 20 minutes, there were nine incidents with pullovers,” he said.
As a result, speed feedback signs will be placed on the southbound lanes of King and Lawson streets. The signs will tell drivers their speed, but also keep track of what speeds are as cars travel down the lane. No identifiable data will be kept, but officers will be able to download data regarding what a vehicle’s speed was and what time it passed the sign. That data will then be used to help coordinate patrols around the area to improve safety for children heading to school.
“This is about getting kids to school safely,” Braaten said. “Preferably on foot.”
Although speeding drivers is a problem, parking along 12th Avenue can wreak havoc on early morning transportation. There will be a no parking zone on the roadway between morning hours yet to be established, in an effort to alleviate some concerns.
“Twelfth Avenue is the first priority,” Braaten said.
Part of the project is already completed, with 300 feet of chain-link fence along Lawson Street installed earlier this year. The fence helps protect the new community garden. Part of the garden is dedicated to the school, for student projects.
Educational materials for students are also part of the grant. Braaten said emphasis was placed to make items as sustainable as possible and transferrable from year to year. Thus, items like bicycle helmets, for example, aren’t on the list as only one helmet would go to one student, not transferred to another one in the following year.
Approximately 10 percent of the grant needs to be used for enforcement , community engagement and education, totaling approximately $30,000.
James Eik can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.