Work begins on local Safe Routes to School




Work is in full swing on the first of 14 sidewalk projects in Garden City designed to make it safer for children to walk to school.

In the fall of 2011, the city received $250,000 through Safe Routes to School, a federal program administered by the Kansas Department of Transportation, to build five-foot wide sidewalks throughout the community on routes children take to get to schools.

City staff worked with school district administrators to identify locations where sidewalks were needed. The first project, along the west side of Eighth Street from Mary Street to Scout Park, is currently under way and is expected to be completed next week, according to Alex Mestdagh, assistant city engineer.

"And as the weather allows, they'll move on to other locations around town," he said. "They will continue moving street to street. We will make sure we notify residents on each street in advance of construction."

Last year, the projects were designed and the city met with the public. The bid was awarded last fall to JAG Construction.

Mestdagh said no city matching funds were required. The grant paid for 100 percent of the project.

Steve Cottrell, city engineer, said a master plan was developed for the project in which various elementary, intermediate and middle schools told the city where they thought sidewalks were needed to help students get to school.

Planning began several years ago when the Safe Routes to Schools program first came out, Cottrell said. The city met with site councils and school administrators to come up with a map of potential projects, and then tried to determine how to somewhat evenly distribute funding.

"We had the various schools look at it and say where they saw the best bang for the buck. If we could build sidewalks where needed, which ones would benefit students getting to your school the most? We identified those, put them on a map, and then started identifying costs and tried to weed down to come up with a grouping of projects that fit that $250,000," he said.

Overall, more than $1 million worth of potential school route sidewalk projects were identified in the master plan, Cottrell said.

When the current batch of sidewalk projects is completed, Cottrell said, the city could apply for another grant from Safe Routes to School, though the odds of receiving additional funding may be slim.

"It's still a competitive process. The likelihood of getting a second grant before someone else got a first grant would be small," he said. "But it's still conceivable if funding is still available, depending on number of applications we'd be competing against, the city could apply for another grant in the future."

The next project will be on the north side of Harding Avenue from Third Street to Center Street. Mestdagh said residents of that area should receive notices in the mail this week.

In no particular order, the other projects scheduled include:

* East side of Main Street from Hamline Street to Mary Street.

* East side of 11th Street from Jenny Avenue to Moores Avenue.

* North side of Olive Street from 11th Street to Eighth Street.

* West side of 13th Street from Mulberry Street to Kansas Avenue.

* West side of 13th Street from St. John Street to Fulton Street.

* East side of Eighth Street from Holmes Avenue to Willow Brook Lane.

* West side of Center Street from Pine Street to Spruce Street.

* West side of Center Street from Spruce Street to Kansas Avenue.

* South side of Spruce Street from Ballinger Street to Fleming Street.

* West side of Center Street at Melanie Lane.

* East side of Third Street from Hamline Street to Fair Street.

* East side of Third Street from Price Street to Thompson Street.

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