By Sue Botos
For over two years, the Rocky River School District and the city have been working in tandem to secure funding from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) for the Safe Routes to School initiative. During its legislative session on April 10, council approved a measure seeking a grant for a second phase of infrastructure improvement, this time near Kensington Intermediate School.
Council safety committee chair, Ward 1 Councilman Tom Hunt explained that the legislation mirrors an application for a grant submitted in February of 2016 for signal crossing systems and street markings in two locations: near the bus lane in front of Kensington Intermediate School at the intersection of Falmouth Drive, Avalon Road and Lake Road, and near the middle school and St. Christopher School at Lakeview Road and Lakeview Court.
While the city received $200,000 from ODOT for the Lakeview project, safety service Director Mary Kay Costello said she had to resubmit the request for the second phase, the Falmouth/Avalon/Lake work. She said she had hoped to use last year’s legislation, but the language needed to be updated and approved by council.
“We’re asking for the balance of $200,000 for the infrastructure project near Kensington School,” she commented. The cap for the Safe Routes to School grant is $400,000, which includes devices, concrete and paving, plus engineering and planning. In addition, the improvements will include a new crossing light, ADA enhancements and pavement markings.
Total cost for the Falmouth work is estimated at $264,000. If funding is granted, it would be received in 2020. Dollars for the first phase, near the middle school, will be available in 2019.
“Hopefully, ODOT will see this as worthwhile dollars. This is a troublesome intersection,” Hunt said of the Falmouth/Avalon/Lake area.
The two locations were among the top trouble spots identified by parents on a 2015 survey conducted by a Safe Routes to School committee consisting of representatives from Rocky River Schools, St. Christopher, the city, law enforcement and the community. The information, along with findings from a traffic study, resulted in a 100-page School Travel Plan which was approved by ODOT in 2016.
The goal of the federal State Routes to School program is the encouraging of safe and healthy habits among public and private school students in grades K-8, including walking or riding bikes, when possible, to school instead of relying on buses or family vehicles. The initiative also seeks to create a safe environment for student travel.