City to seek Safe Routes to School grant

SANDPOINT — Local students could be enjoying a safer trip to school each morning with the help of a new grant.

At the beginning of February, the city council authorized staff to apply for a Safe Routes to School grant. A response to concerns regarding traffic at Sandpoint High School and Sandpoint Middle School, the grant would allow city officials to add improvements that will make pedestrian travel a safer experience along Pine and Ontario streets.

The project kicked off when Lake Pend Oreille School District officials hired a consultant to take a look at the traffic situation near the high school and middle school and offer suggestions for improvements. While the high school didn’t appear to be eligible for any appropriate grants, the middle school fit the characteristics for a Safe Routes to School grant. Given the two schools’ close proximity, however, it’s likely that there will be some shared benefits from the improvements.

The new additions primarily center on assistance from traffic coordinators in entering and exiting the schools from the western end of Sandpoint. In addition, the grant could improve the process for school buses to enter and exit the schools from the southern exit of the facilities.

In addition to schools, Councilman Aaron Qualls noted that the improvements could benefit senior citizens and other residents near the region. Furthermore, all property owners with the potential to be affected by the project have been notified and haven’t offered any negative feedback.

The grant application wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for the assistance of Safe Routes to School Coordinator Brenda Woodward, who put a significant amount of effort in coordinating the project. The Sandpoint right of way inspector, Bruce Robertson, also contributed his expertise to the project.   

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