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February 22, 2013

City moves ahead on Safe Routes to School

OSKALOOSA — Safe routes earned some attention this week.

On Tuesday, the Oskaloosa City Council approved three items related to the city of Oskaloosa Safe Routes to School. The first item approved a resolution adopting the plan. The next item approved authorizing Oskaloosa City Manager Michael Schrock Jr. to execute and deliver all necessary documents in connection with the grant application for funds under the Safe Routes to School Program. Lastly, the city council approved a contract with the Area 15 Regional Planning Commission in an amount not to exceed $3,500 to apply for the Safe Routes to School Program grant.

According to an explanation of the first Safe Routes to School Program item on the agenda, the SRTS program is federally funded and was created under the Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users. The program’s goal is to reduce injuries and fatalities to school children and to encourage walking and bicycling among students.

The agenda item explanation goes on to note that the SRTS program meets its goals by “constructing facilities that enhance safety for pedestrians and bicyclists, primarily students grades K-12 who walk or bike to school.” It also goes on to say, “By enhancing the safety of the pathways, trails, sidewalks, and crossings, the likelihood of attracting and encouraging other students to walk or bike increases.”

The SRTS also has a plan, which is a document outlining the city’s and school’s efforts for making waling and bicycling to school “sustainable and safe,” according to the item explanation. The Area 15 Regional Planning Commission has worked with assistance from city staff and those with the school staff in developing this particular plan.

So, what does this plan do?

The SRTS Plan looks at the schools’ travel environment and identifies hazards and barriers to bike and pedestrian travel, as well. Solutions and improvements to encourage walking and biking, as well as an “action plan” for implementing programs and improvements are also part of the plan.

Adopting the plan is needed for the city of Oskaloosa to apply for any grants related to SRTS.

When it comes to the item on Tuesday’s agenda about executing and delivering grant application documents, the item explanation points to two proposed projects identified by city staff. It notes the locations and cost estimates for areas where five foot wide sidewalks proposed to be installed include the east side of Green Street from Pella Avenue to M Avenue at a cost of $134,000 and the northeast side of North L Street from D Avenue to Green Street at a cost of $77,000.

Lastly, the city council approved a contract with Area 15 Regional Planning Commission for no more than $3,500. This agenda item’s explanation notes that the Area 15 RPC provided assistance to prepare and complete the city’s SRTS Plan. It also notes that the contract with the RPC will give the city professional services for the SRTS grant process and to prepare the grant application. The item explanation also states that the SRTS project will cost approximately $211,000 with the state providing 100 percent of the funds.

See Monday’s Herald for more from this week’s Oskaloosa City Council meeting.

——————

Herald City Editor Andy Goodell can be reached at news2@oskyherald.com.

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