Administrators at Kinnan Elementary, Sugg Middle and Bayshore High schools may be breathing a sigh of relief soon.
The three schools are hoping to receive funding to improve sidewalks and lighting so students can walk to and from school more safely.
Manatee County Public Works Department and the school district are applying for infrastructure funding from Safe Routes to School, a national organization that provides grants to improve road conditions in hopes of encouraging students to walk and bike to school. On Tuesday evening, the Manatee Department of Public Works hosted a public hearing at Emmanuel United Methodist Church to review three proposed projects.
Jason Collins, a consultant with the transportation and engineering firm Adeas-Q, led the forum and reviewed the three specific projects that the school district hopes Safe Routes to School will fund.
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The county is applying for funding for projects in three locations:
• A sidewalk near Kinnan Elementary School from Whitfield Avenue to connect the existing sidewalk.
• A sidewalk across the street from Sugg Middle School on the west side of 59th Street from Sun Chase Apartments’ existing sidewalk to 40th Avenue.
• Near Bayshore High School: lighting on 53rd Avenue West from U.S. 41 to 34th Street West; lighting on 34th Street West from Cortez Road to 53rd Avenue West; and lighting on 34th Street West from 53rd Avenue West to Bollettieri Way.
Bayshore Principal David Underhill said his school needs sidewalk improvements and potentially flashing crosswalks for students to more safely cross 34th street.
“I’m constantly getting panicked calls saying the kids are running across 34th street,” Underhill said.
Collins said improved lighting on 53rd Avenue West is a priority for the district because of students waiting for the bus and walking to school during the early morning hours.
“Some of the most dangerous times for driving are in the early morning,” Collins said. “When children are going to school it is many times before sunrise and it is hard for drivers to see children in the pre-dawn hours.”
Collins said the school district identified the three projects and that although other areas could benefit from infrastructure improvements, the school board had prioritized the three proposed locations.
Collins said he was not sure how long it would take for the projects to be completed, but he said now that the public hearing is complete, the next step is for the county to complete and submit the applications.