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|Shady Grove Elementary considered for Safe Routes to School funding|
The Ouachita Parish school system applied for $300,000 in state funding for sidewalk improvements at Shady Gove Elementary in southern Ouachita Parish.
Money for the project would come from the state's safe routes to school program.
Pam Barton, supervisor of the parish school's grant department, said the grant would provide $250,000 for infrastructure improvements near the school to provide a better means for students to walk and ride their bicycles. Another $50,000 would be used to educate children about proper safety measures when walking and riding bikes to and from school.
The national Safe Routes to School program allocated $612 million to states to implement safe route projects over a five-year period. Louisiana will get $9.5 million over the course of those five years, or roughly $1.9 million each year.
The state awards the five-year grants, which is funded solely by the federal government. The Safe Routes to School program is a reimbursement program, meaning local governing bodies must pay for all work and activities, though they will be reimbursed for their expenditures.
Funding is provided for projects that "create physical improvements to the infrastructure surrounding schools; reduce the speed of motor vehicle traffic; or establishes safer and easily accessible crossings, walkways, trails or bike paths," according to the state Department of Transportation and Development. DOTD oversees the program for the state.
According to Barton's grant application, Ticheli Road, where Shady Grove is located, has an average daily traffic count of 4,576 vehicles.
"No sidewalks are located along Garden Park Drive, the main street serving Garden Park Subdivision, thereby encouraging students to walk in the street where they compete for space with vehicle traffic," according to the grant proposal.
Ditches around the school have already been covered, "making it an ideal location to place walking and biking paths."
Improved pedestrian facilities around the school would include new sidewalks and crosswalks to provide a safer, more convenient opportunity for students from the nearby residential area to walk to and from school, Barton said.
The project would provide a new five-foot-wide concrete walk from the school building to Ticheli Road. A new four-foot-wide concrete sidewalk would be installed along the west side of Garden Park Drive to align with the pedestrian crosswalk across Ticheli Road.
DOTD officials will visit the school March 17 to determine if Shady Grove would be one of the schools to be awarded Safe Routes to Schools funding this year.
Barton expects the school system will learn by May if it will receive the grant funding.