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‘Safe Routes’ Program Aims to Enhance Walking Options

Town officials are seeking input as they put together a plan that would enhance walking routes near DePaolo Middle School and Memorial Park.

‘Safe Routes’ Program Aims to Enhance Walking Options

Residents may soon be able to enjoy improved walking paths and take in the scenery near the and – but first town officials need your help.

Volunteers with the town’s self-organized “Safe Routes to School” and "Activate Southington" programs have put together a proposal for a $500,000 renovation of sidewalks, paths and other walking routes in the area. The full program will be presented at a public input session on May 8.

Garry Brumback said the program is in the concept and may be recommended for construction under the Safe Routes to School Program administered by the Connecticut Department of Transportation.

“The Joseph A. DePaolo Middle School Safe Routes to School Master Plan outlines a series of transportation improvements, whose implementation is slated to be 100 percent funded by the national Safe Routes to School program,” Brumback said. “The program dedicated to making physical and programmatic improvements in and around community schools to create safer environments for children to bike and walk to school.”

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Engineers with the town would be responsible for the complete project design if supported by the community, he said.

The town, with the help of volunteers from across the community, encouraged students to walk and took a survey in June 2011 as part of the first-ever “.”

DePaolo seventh-grader Kamil Kuziora was one of those who participated in the event. Kuziora, who lives on Queen Street, said he told his mom about the idea and she thought it was a great way to help him get a little extra exercise and have some fun.

“I had seen other kids do it and thought, why couldn’t I?” he said in the June interview. “It wasn’t hard. I think I might ride the rest of the year as long as the weather is good.”

But there were many students who got to school by other means of transportation that day. According to surveys conducted the morning of June 16, 2011, 40 percent of the students live within walking distance, or 1.5 miles, of the school. Yet only 12 percent of the students choose to walk or bike to school.

Those who do choose to walk or bike have to navigate busy roads, many of which have inadequate, or missing, crosswalks or sidewalks. In response to these obstacles to active transportation, the Southington SRTS Committee outlined a series of recommendations for improving the existing conditions surrounding DePaolo Middle School.

The two largest infrastructure improvements include the construction of a sidewalk on the north side of Woodruff Street from Pleasant Street west to Skyline Drive and a path from Crest Road to DePaolo Middle School through Memorial Park along a town right of way.

This path would also provide greater access to Memorial Park for those who live in the Crest Road neighborhood and on surrounding streets.

Further information on these improvements and other recommendations will be provided at a public informational meeting being held on Tuesday, May 8th, at the at 6 p.m.

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