New­ton gets school pedes­trian grant

The Covington News - - Front page - Gabriel Khouli gkhouli@cov­

New­ton County has re­ceived a $316,700 fed­eral grant to pay for im­prove­ments that will make it safer for school­child­ren to walk and bike along Brown Bridge, Fairview and Kirk­land roads.

New­ton County re­ceived a Routes to School grant that will pay for 14,460 lin­ear feet of side­walks, 15 pedes­trian cross­ings, three in-road warn­ing light sys­tem cross­walks, five 20-bike bi­cy­cle racks and six stop-for-pedes­trian signs.

The im­prove­ments on Brown Bridge Road would ben­e­fit West New­ton El­e­men­tary and Vet­er­ans Me­mo­rial Mid­dle schools; the Fairview Road work would help stu­dents at Fairview El­e­men­tary and Cle­ments Mid­dle schools; and the Kirk­land Road pro­ject would help stu­dents at Live Oak El­e­men­tary School.

Each are high-traf­fic roads that are dan­ger­ous to cross, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials. Each of the five schools have a large num­ber of stu­dents liv­ing within two miles of the school. A to­tal of 2,597 stu­dents live within two miles of one of the five schools, with 530 stu­dents liv­ing within a half-mile of the five schools.

The in-road warn­ing light sys­tem for cross­walks will in­clude high in­ten­sity, bi-direc­tional in-pave­ment flash­ing lights, as well as pre-

warn­ing flash­ing LED signs to pre­pare mo­torists to stop for pedes­tri­ans.

Kathy Gar­ber, grant co­or­di­na­tor for the New­ton County School Sys­tem, said there is no timetable for con­struc­tion. The state will han­dle the fi­nal en­gi­neer­ing, bid out the pro­ject and over­see con­struc­tion.

New­ton County will be re­spon­si­ble for main­te­nance, Gar­ber said, though no cost es­ti­mate was avail­able. She said the grant ap­pli­ca­tion was a col­lab­o­ra­tive pro­posal from the county, school sys­tem, the sher­iff’s depart­ment ( traf­fic counts) and The Cen­ter for Plan­ning and Preser­va­tion.

“ Hope­fully, as infra- struc­tures are put in place, more and more stu­dents will choose to walk or ride their bikes to school, not only to im­prove their own health and fit­ness, but to im­prove the air qual­ity around their schools through a re­duc­tion of car and bus traf­fic in the area,” Gar­ber said in a press re­lease. “ If we can help make this hap­pen, it will be a ben­e­fit to the en­tire com­mu­nity.”

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