Safe Routes to School: $400,000 grant to pay for sidewalks
Pickerington city officials, utilizing a $400,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation, plan to add sidewalks to an area near Ridgeview Junior High School.
On May 15, ODOT awarded the city of Pickerington a $400,000 grant through Safe Routes to School, a program launched in 2008 to provide funding to make it safer for students in grades K-8 to walk or ride bicycles to school.
The grant will enable the city to install sidewalks on the north side of West Columbus Street and Long Road between Hill Road North and Poplar Street.
Preliminary estimates put the total project at $500,000, according to Pickerington City Manager Greg Butcher.
"We were very pleased ODOT viewed the merits of the project in the same fashion as we did," Butcher said. "This project will increase safety for citizens, and kids in particular, walking along this busy corridor.
"Additionally, the Safe Routes to School program specifies the grant is 100% funded with no local share," he said.
"In other words, the city will receive up to $400,000 with no local share. Typically, a local funding match of at least 25% is required for state- or federal-funded infrastructure projects."
Butcher said the city will kick in the remaining money needed for the project.
It is expected to be completed some time in 2022.
"Design will likely commence later this year with construction slated in late 2021 or early to mid-year 2022," Butcher said. "The schedule is largely driven by the state of Ohio's fiscal year programming."
Once completed, the new section of sidewalk will be 2,700 linear feet, Butcher said.
The city sought the grant because pedestrian safety has been an issue, he said..
"The project area is in close proximity to Ridgeview Junior High School, and therefore, has many students walking to and from both school and extracurricular activities," he said.
Shara Baumann said she was happy to hear about the impending project.
Her 12-year-old son was riding a skateboard on Oct. 23 when he reportedly was struck by a vehicle near the intersection of West Columbus Street and Fair Oaks Drive.
She said he was on his way home from an open-gym event at Ridgeview and suffered a concussion as a result of the incident.
"I'm really happy something is finally being done," Baumann said. "I feel like our voices were heard and this is going to be a really good thing for so students, so they can feel safe as they walk to school, as well as residents in the area who walk to Olde Pickerington."
Baumann said her son was fortunate not to be hurt severely, and she's hopeful the sidewalk project will prevent future incidents.
"I'm really excited this is being done and hope that no other parents will have to go through this," she said.
City officials said they do not have plans to expand sidewalks in 2020.
But Butcher said the upcoming Safe Routes to School-funded project shows the city's efforts to listen to residents while enhancing community safety and amenities.
"High-performing local governments solicit, review and reflect upon feedback from our residents who we refer to as customers," he said.
"In this case, a safety issue was identified and available grant opportunities were evaluated that would mitigate the concern.
"With encouragement and support from Mayor Lee Gray and City Council, the Safe Routes to School grant was applied for and we are extremely grateful the Ohio Department of Transportation recognized the safety issue and after rigorous review, announced the city of Pickerington will be the recipient of a $400,000 grant."
Gray said he is pleased Butcher and council members have shown their willingness to listen to residents' concerns and work creatively to find solutions.
He said Butcher deserves recognition for "... understanding mine and city council's desires to find a solution to this problem and for his diligent work on the application."