COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

 

AGENDA TITLE:

Safe Routes To School Resolution of Support for Infrastructure Grant Application

 

SUBJECT/PROPOSAL/REQUEST:

Request for the Board of Supervisors to adopt a resolution supporting a Safe Routes to School Infrastructure Application for the Crozet Elementary School area.

 

STAFF CONTACT(S):

Messrs. Tucker, Foley, Davis, Kamptner, Graham, Benish, and Wade

 

LEGAL REVIEW:   Yes

 

AGENDA DATE:

December 2, 2009

 

ACTION:               INFORMATION: 

 

CONSENT AGENDA:

  ACTION:   X          INFORMATION: 

 

 

ATTACHMENTS:   Yes

 

 

REVIEWED BY:

 

 

BACKGROUND:

The Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Program is a federally-funded program created under the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU).  The purpose of the SRTS program is to:

Enable and encourage children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school; make bicycling and walking to school a safer and more appealing transportation alternative, thereby encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle from an early age; and facilitate the planning, development, and implementation of projects and activities that will improve safety and reduce traffic, fuel consumption, and air pollution in the vicinity of schools. 

 

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is responsible for administering this program in Virginia. The Virginia SRTS Program is a phased program. Phase I begins with the local development of a SRTS School Travel Plan.  A School Travel Plan is a written document that outlines a school community's intentions for making bicycling and walking to school sustainable and safe.  The Alliance for Community Choice in Transportation (ACCT) is coordinating this phase for the County with assistance from staff.  A School Travel Plan is being prepared for Crozet, Greer, Cale, Hollymead, Brownsville, Agnor-Hurt, Woodbrook, Stone Robinson, and Baker-Butler elementary schools.  The Travel Plan for Crozet Elementary School will be the first to be submitted (due to VDOT in early November).  The School Travel Plan for the remainder of the schools will be submitted by the end of the year (December).  Crozet’s Plan is being submitted first since this school is furthest along in its efforts to actively support walk to school programs and educational efforts.

 

Phase II of the program is the infrastructure application step.  Once a school and community has completed a School Travel Plan and received approval from VDOT, the plan can be used to apply for SRTS funding to implement identified strategies for improving walking and biking to school. Staff will be submitting an application for Crozet Elementary School (“Crozet ES”) for pedestrian safety improvements based on the School’s Travel Plan.
The types of activities and projects that can be funded through this program include:

 

·                     Bicycle and pedestrian safety education

·                     Safe Routes to School workshops

·                     Activities such as a special "walk to school day" event

·                     Crossing guard training programs and equipment

·                     Evaluation of the impact of SRTS activities on student travel behavior

·                     Missing links in sidewalks

·                     Improved intersections and crossings

·                     Other bicycle/pedestrian facilities or safety improvements

 

The proposed grant application focuses on the sidewalk, crosswalk and safety improvements noted in the School Travel Plan.

 

STRATEGIC PLAN:

Goal One: Enhance he quality of life for all citizens. 


DISCUSSION:

Staff is requesting the Board of Supervisors support a resolution for infrastructure improvements at Crozet ES. Crozet ES was chosen as the first candidate for an infrastructure grant because the school has been active for many years in promoting walking to school, including efforts such as informal “walking school busses.” Currently, walking school busses depart from the Crozet Baptist church on walk to school days held on the third Friday of every month.  Additionally, Crozet ES observes International Walk to School Day. International Walk to School Day events are accompanied by safety oriented promotions and literature, such as reflective backpack clips and stickers as well as safe pedestrian tips and handouts to be sent home with parents. The School’s and parents’ participation are vital to make these activities successful.  These documented and ongoing initiatives reflect strong school (PTO, administration) and community support for walking to school and make this a strong application for this highly competitive grant.

 

The most important infrastructure improvements identified in the School Travel Plan are improving the visibility and safety of the crosswalk and upgrading and extending the existing sidewalk system along Crozet Avenue.  The crosswalk in front of Crozet ES poses a serious danger to children as they walk to school because its location is not at an intersection and it is the first crosswalk that cars approach as they enter the town of Crozet from the north.  Though the speed limit drops to 25 mph in front of the school and into the town, the speed limit is much higher along Crozet Avenue north of the school. The current crosswalk is only marked as a double line, does not have any specific warning beacons or signals, and is located at a signalized intersection.   

 

The improvements requested for funding in this grant request are:

·                     Crosswalk improvements:

-           Repaint the crosswalk in a more visible zebra stripe pattern;

-           Install push-button operated warning lights to indicate when people are using the crosswalk (flashing lights either mounted on crosswalk signs or imbedded within the crosswalk.

-           Install additional crosswalk warning signs to indicate the north side of the school on White Hall Road where speed limit is higher to indicate to drivers that they are approaching a crosswalk.

·                     Construct a new sidewalk on the west side of Crozet Avenue from the southern intersection of Ballard Drive and Crozet Avenue to Crozet ES and connect to the existing sidewalk.

·                     Upgrade/rebuild the existing sidewalk on the west side of Crozet Avenue, from near Three Chopt’d Road to the Crozet ES/Old Crozet School site.  The current sidewalk is very narrow, with an uneven, cracked or broken surface and lacks ramps at some intersections.  The sidewalk does not meet ADA requirements.

 

The total cost for all proposed improvements, including the upgrade of the existing sidewalks and the extension of the sidewalk to the southernmost Ballard Drive intersection, is approximately $500,000.  The maximum grant award under this program is $500,000.  There is no match required from the participating locality or agency. 

 

Staff anticipates applying for Safe Routes to School Infrastructure Grants over the next 2 years for improvements serving Greer, Cale and Hollymead elementary schools.

 

BUDGET IMPACT: 

The County will be applying for a $500,000 Safe Routes to School grant. No funding match is required as part of this grant program.  This is a reimbursement grant and funding to cover project development prior to reimbursement will covered from existing allocations in the CIP Sidewalk Program (Fund #9010 41350).  The improvements to the existing sidewalk from Three Notch’d Road to the Crozet ES sites is already programmed in the County’s CIP and funding has been accruing to this project.  Preliminary design work has been undertaken by the Office of Facilities Development; however, limited funding remains available to construct the project.  

 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

Staff recommends that the Board of Supervisors adopt the attached resolution (Attachment A) to apply for a Safe Routes to School Infrastructure Grant. 

 

ATTACHMENTS 

Attachment A – Resolution

Attachment B – Map
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