Howland seeks 'Safe Routes' for kids

HOWLAND — The township is seeking $316,500 to construct sidewalks in the area of H.C. Mines Elementary to make it safer for pupils and parents.

The funds are being sought from the Ohio Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School program.

The plan was developed by Mark Zuppo, township planning and zoning director; his deputy, Kimberly Mascarella; and David McCann, director of public works department.

The plan calls for 9,600 feet of sidewalk to run from a walkway along East Market Street, north along Fuller Drive to the dead end, continue north along Thorn Drive, east on Forest Hill Drive, north along Howland-Wilson Road in front of Mines school and east along Cain Drive to Henn Hyde Road.

The project also calls for the upgrading of a crosswalk at the school and construction of another signaled crosswalk at Howland-Wilson and Squires Lane.

Mines school was selected as the first proposed project because it can receive the maximum benefit because the sports field at the school generates much of the vehicle traffic and it would connect to the sidewalk along East Market.

Zuppo and Mascarella said the SRTS concept is to make travel to and from school safer, reduce traffic congestion during peak periods, educate pupils and parents on traffic safety and reduce air pollution.

ODOT is making $19 million available over four years, $3 million of it this year.

Mascarella explained that the program has been successful in other states with whole neighborhoods walking to school together and students having contests for walking the most miles to and from school.

Zuppo explained that it was initially thought that the sidewalk should run along Howland-Wilson, from East Market to Cain.

However, between 6,500 and 7,000 vehicles use Howland-Wilson daily, making it less conducive to being a safe-school route.

The school will play an important part in the program, Zuppo said.

He explained pupils will be taught how to walk or ride their bicycles safely, along with teachers and parents following good safety practices such as following the speed limit and observing pedestrian crosswalks.

The schools will also be used to encourage use of the sidewalks, Mascarella pointed out, noting it encourages parents to walk with their children and for children to walk together.

“It leads to a more active life,” she said.

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