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April 03. 2014 10:31PM

'Safe' routes would help elementary school students in Littleton

LITTLETON — After approving additional money for the project at Town Meeting, residents will have another say soon about a "safer route" to school for students attending Mildred Lakeway Elementary.

The town, through the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, previously received a grant for $210,606 to start its own Safe Routes to School program, which is a part of a national movement "to encourage and enable elementary school children to safely walk and ride bicycles to school."

Safe Routes, the state DOT said, "helps communities by reimbursing them for the costs of bringing new balance to our transportation system," and it is designed for children from kindergarten through eighth grade, including those with disabilities, who live within about two miles of school.

CMA Engineers of Concord made an initial presentation to Littleton selectmen in February 2013 when the improvements were estimated to cost $250,000. That amount had increased and when the town asked the DOT for additional resources, it was turned down, said Fred Moody, Littleton town manager.

Voters at Town Meeting on March 11, however, covered the shortfall by agreeing to appropriate $113,370.

A public hearing on the safe routes proposal will be held at 5 p.m. April 14 in the Heald Room at the Community Center as part of the selectmen's meeting, said Moody.

"It's significant for the town that we will get a rebuilt sidewalk and stairs and a crossing with signalization for the elementary school, and we'll get a key sidewalk rebuilt between Pleasant Street and the park."

Located east of the downtown, Lakeway Elementary has been the subject of what Moody called a years-long grassroots effort to create a safe route there.According to the 2013 presentation by CMA Engineers, the "pedestrian shed" for the safe routes project includes "several dense neighborhoods" within a half-mile radius of the school.
Assuming that the "safe route" to Lakeway Elementary again gets a favorable response from selectmen and the public, the next step in the process would be to finalize the design with the state, after which the engineers can prepare bid documents.
"We hope to complete all aspects with the available moneys," said Moody, adding that the actual construction would be done between the end of the current school year and the start of the next.

jkoziol@newstote.com


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