District 1 receives funds for traffic study
Yuma Elementary School District 1 recently received a $250,000 grant for a traffic study to develop recommendations for needed roadway improvements within the district’s boundaries.
Priority areas for study were identified at C.W. Mcgraw, O.C. Johnson, Sunrise, Roosevelt, Alice Byrne, James P. Rolle, George Washington Carver, Pecan Grove, Mary A. Otondo and Palmcroft elementary schools, as well as Fourth Avenue, R. Pete Woodard, Castle Dome and Gila Vista middle schools.
Two years ago, the district contributed $10,000 to the city of Yuma to serve as 50 percent of the cost of developing information in an initial study about vehicle and pedestrian traffic in and around many district schools. The city of Yuma paid for the other half of the study.
Information gathered was used to prepare a competitive Planning Assistance for Rural Areas (PARRA) grant application to the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT).
Chief Financial Officer Kerry Jones said that although District 1 did not initially receive funds the first time around, corrections were made to the application that led the seed money to grow and be used for a multimodal planning study. The dollars will allow for ADOT to look at improvements needed to make it safer for students, staff and parents to walk, ride or drive to school, he added.
The application stated that with the increase in Yuma’s population by 65 percent in the last 20 years, the expansion has put a strain on existing infrastructure, including at District 1, which is one of the largest and oldest school districts in the city, with 12 elementary schools and five middle schools.
“To alleviate some of the vehicular congestion at schools and to encourage an active and healthy lifestyle, the district encourages students that live close-by to either walk or bike to school. A challenge to implement this plan more fervently has been the lack of safe infrastructure including bike and pedestrian facilities and safe street crossings in the vicinity of several of the schools,” stated the application.
“During drop-off and pick-up times, school buses, parents and faculty converge at school parking lots creating congestion and unsafe environments for students walking and biking to school. It became apparent during discussions that a comprehensive districtwide study was prudent to evaluate the issues that were somewhat systematic but also specific to certain schools.”
The first teleconference meeting between District 1 staff, city of Yuma planners and engineers, and ADOT staff was held Aug. 29. Jones said that once the study is completed, estimated to take a year, they will begin to look at potential resources that can be used to complete the recommendations with the city of Yuma and ADOT as well as other potential grant opportunities.
District administration and city staff worked together to summarize and prioritize issues as follows:
• C.W. McGraw Elementary – vehicular congestion, unsafe walking/biking.
• O.C. Johnson Elementary – vehicular congestion, unsafe walking/biking.
• Sunrise Elementary/Ron Watson Middle School – vehicular congestion, inadequate street crossing.
• Fourth Avenue Junior High School – vehicular congestion, inadequate use of safe street crossing.
• Roosevelt Elementary – vehicular congestion, unsafe walking/biking.
• Alice Byrne Elementary – vehicular congestion, speeding.
• Gila Vista Junior High School – vehicular congestion, unsafe street crossing.
• Woodard Jr. High – vehicular congestion, unsafe street crossing.
• Palmcroft Elementary – vehicular congestion, inadequate infrastructure.
• James B Rolle Elementary School – vehicular congestion, unsafe street crossing.
• Pecan Grove Elementary – unsafe street crossing.
• Gila Vista Junior High School – unsafe street crossing.
• Carver Elementary – inadequate infrastructure, unsafe street crossing.
• Pecan Grove Elementary – drop-off/pick-up, unsafe street crossing.
• Castle Dome Middle School – congestion at drop-off and pick-up.
• Mary A. Otondo Elementary – congestion at drop off/pick-up.