By Staff Reports
(Apple Valley)– For some parents, sending their children off to school is a source of worry…not because they feel the school is unsafe, but the route they walk or bike to get there can be challenging. The Town of Apple Valley understands these concerns and has secured a state grant that will help improve transportation routes for students traveling to and from school.
“One of the primary goals of AVUSD is student safety,” said Janet Gould, Apple Valley Unified School District Risk Management Director. “The goal of this project is to reduce traffic dangers that prevent children from walking or biking to school safely, and expand the safe environment at our schools out onto the surrounding roads.”
The first step is to evaluate the specific needs for each location and create a master plan of the improvement options available. The grant does not provide construction funding, however, it will allow an assessment of 10 K-8 grade schools. The findings will help staff determine solutions that will enable more students to safely walk or ride their bike to class.
“We invite parents to take an active role in helping identify concerns and provide input, as we work together to ensure safer routes to school for our students and families,” said Gould, noting that all families of students in grades kindergarten through 8th grade will be receiving letters explaining the input process.
A Safe Routes to Schools Coalition will steer the planning process through the coming months. The group consists of school representatives, AVUSD staff, Town engineering staff, and school police officials. A safety audit of the 10 target schools is underway under the direction of the KOA Corporation, the planning and engineering consultants who were chosen to manage the project. Once the safety audits are complete, KOA will use the information to propose infrastructure upgrades aimed at protecting the pedestrians and bicyclists on their way to and from school.
“Caltrans has provided us with an excellent opportunity,” said Rich Berger, Project Manager in the Town’s engineering department. “This project brings together our Town, our schools and, most importantly, our residents to protect our community’s most valuable asset – our children. The parents will have an active voice in this process which is critical to its success.”
This planning effort will position Apple Valley for a number of funding opportunities in the future for construction of the infrastructure near our schools. The Town was one of only 50 applicants selected to receive a portion of the $9.8 million in funding. For more information on the Safe Routes to Schools Coalition and master planning process, email AppleValleySRTS@gmail.com.