At the most recent Town of North Hempstead (TONH) board meeting held on Nov. 19, the town board approved the resolution of an inter-municipal agreement with the Village of Port Washington North, the Village of Manorhaven and the Port Washington Union Free School District (PWUFSD) to design and construct improvements on municipally-controlled roads and properties to enhance the safety of routes taken by children when traveling to school.
According to the New York State Department of Transportation, the Safe Routes to School program is a federal, state and local effort, which enables and encourages children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school. The program seeks to make alternate forms of transportation to school both safe and appealing for children.
These programs can bring a wide range of benefits to students and the community. These include an easy way for children to get the regular physical activity they need for good health, to ease traffic jams and reduce pollution around schools. In New York, as in other parts of this country, kids traveling to school by walking and bicycling has declined dramatically over the past several decades. The adverse impacts of this trend on air quality, traffic congestion and childhood health are alarming. The goal of New York’s safe routes to school program is to assist New York communities in developing and implementing projects and programs that encourage walking and bicycling to school while enhancing the safety of these trips.
A major goal of the program is to increase bicycle, pedestrian and traffic safety. Successful safe routes to school programs in the United States usually include one or more of these approaches engineering, enforcement, education and encouragement.
The grant funding for this project is provided by the New York State Department of Transportation safe routes to school grant program. The funding for the project will total $746,404. It will improve pedestrian safety around six schools located within the Port Washington School District, including Manorhaven Elementary School, John Phillip Sousa Elementary School, John J. Daly Elementary School, Guggenheim Elementary School, Salem Elementary School and Weber Middle School.
“I am proud to partner with the Village of Port Washington North and the Village of Manorhaven on the safe routes to school initiative to give our students and families more opportunities to walk to school,” North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth said. “Safe routes to school promotes healthy and active lifestyles for our students, while also ensuring that our intersections are safe and our school entrances are accessible.”
According to the TONH, improvements will include the installation of handicap accessible ramps, roadway striping and stop bars and will entail 23 intersections or school entrances within the project limits. The project includes town, county, state, village and the school district roads, which will be renovated to improve street safety.
A bid for the project will take place before work can begin. The project is included in the TONH 2020-24 capital plan, and all work for the program is scheduled to be completed next summer.