A safer walk to school is the goal as Swanton undertakes a Safe Routes to School project this year. New sidewalks and rail crossings are among the improvements planned.
“We are very excited to see the work on the Safe Routes to School project begin this summer,” said Swanton Superintendent Chris Lake.
New sidewalks will be installed near both Swanton Elementary School and Swanton Middle School.
Near the elementary school, the sidewalk on the west side of Crestwood Drive will be extended from the school north to Brookside Drive. Also, the sidewalk on Church Street will be extended from its endpoint to the existing sidewalk on Hallett Avenue.
There will also be minor improvements at Crestwood Drive’s intersections with Parkside,Woodside and Brookside drives, making it safer for students to cross from the sidewalk to those three streets.
Two new sidewalks are also planned near Swanton Middle School.
One will be on the east side of Elton Parkway. It will extend from Garfield Avenue to a crosswalk which will connect to the current sidewalk on the west side of the road.
There are also planned safety enhancements at the intersection of Garfield Avenue and Elton Parkway, an area that can get congested with both vehicles and pedestrians at the end of the school day.
The other sidewalk will be installed on Harding Drive, which runs along the south side of the middle school. It will go from the school to Browning Drive.
“There are many students who live in the vicinity of Swanton Elementary and Swanton Middle School who walk or bike to school each day and the current lack of infrastructure makes this unsafe,” said Lake. “The installation of new sidewalks, crosswalks and better school zone markings will create a much safer environment for students to walk or bike. Additionally, this project will help to promote a healthier lifestyle for our students and give them the opportunity to get out and move and enjoy our community.”
Improvements will also take place near St. Richard School on Brookside Drive.
“The work on Brookside will include correcting any conflicting pavement markings to ensure they are in accordance with all applicable regulations,” said Swanton Village Administrator Rosanna Hoelzle. “There will also be new signage along the road to illustrate school crossings.”
On Main Street, there will be Z-gates installed at the Norfolk Southern rail crossing. The new gates are designed to make pedestrians and bicyclists more aware of oncoming train traffic. There is a similar setup on Jerome Road near the Shops at Fallen Timbers.
The improvements have been in the works for several years.
“The village, in collaboration with St. Richard Catholic School and Swanton Local Schools, updated the Safe Routes to School Plan in 2017-2018,” said Hoelzle. “It was decided that there could be more improvements made to increase the safety for children and families which walk or bike to school. Further, the addition of sidewalks is consistent with the intent to make the communicate more walkable, in a safe manner.”
Swanton Village Council on April 5 awarded the contract for the project to Smith Paving & Excavating of Norwalk, Ohio. They had the lowest base bid of $271,552.40. An alternate with more decorative Z-gates would have added about $10,000 but council decided not to go with the alternate.
“Both gates are decorative, one just has a top that is different and costs more,” said Hoelzle. “We are being mindful of the funds ODOT granted the Village because there may be costs associated with railroad coordination in which the ODOT funds may be used.”
The Ohio Department of Transportation will provide 100% of the eligible costs up to a maximum of $338,600.
Reach Drew Stambaugh at 419-335-2010