City Receives 'Safe Routes to School' Grant

By Jayna Smith

Beginning next September, children walking or biking to - or in the area of - the elementary school and ball park will have an added measure of safety. Thanks to the receipt of the Safe Routes to School Grant, a project including flashing beacons at the crosswalks in those areas is slated to begin this summer.

City Manager Jim Porter said, "We did apply for the Safe Routes to School Grant in 2012 or 2013, about the time Mr. Monaghan (the former volunteer crossing guard) was retiring."  At that time, there were too many projects in the works for the program; thus, Calais was put on a waiting list.

"It's around $100,000, and involves putting these pedestrian-activated beacons where you push a button and the light goes around a crosswalk sign," Porter explained.  These beacons will be placed at both the entrance and the exit to Calais Elementary School on Garfield Street, as well as near the ball park on Calais Avenue.  

With the beacons will come some necessary new sidewalks.  "We have to put sidewalks on the entrance side (of the school) so the crosswalk doesn't end at nothing," Porter stated, indicating that this new sidewalk will include curb ramps for wheelchair accessibility, as required.  The city's share of this project--around $20,000--was earmarked by the previous council from a fund balance.  "The current council agreed to honor that plan to get it done over the summer."  

Porter understands the need for educating students on the use of the pedestrian-activated beacons.  "Kids will be taught how to use the beacon so they don't just hit the button and run across.  It will take some training and some awareness."  

 

Safe Routes to School is a national and international movement to create safe, convenient, and healthy opportunities for children to walk and bicycle to school.  The federal funds for the program flow from the Federal Highway Administration to the State Department of Transportation.