NORWALK, Conn. – A plan is in the works to improve safety for kids walking to class near Norwalk’s Roton Middle School.
The proposed project would install new sidewalks, curb ramps and crossing lights on Highland Avenue from Witch Lane to Knollwood Road. The city would also relocate the existing crosswalk on Highland Avenue from just south of the intersection of Rowayton Woods to Knollwood Road.
“Many sidewalks are insufficient, or have gaps in them, in the RMS area,” said a 2009 study commissioned by the Southwestern Regional Planning Agency on pedestrian safety near the school. “Many sidewalks are too narrow for children to walk side-by-side or are simply in poor condition with cracks and roots on their surface.”
The project also includes improvements on the school grounds, specifically a new walkway and changes to the existing walkways. The renovations would change the traffic pattern at the school to make it safer for students who walk.
The city expects the full project to cost approximately $400,000. The funding would be covered by the Federal Highway Administration’s Surface Transportation Program, which offers federal money for a wide range of traffic improvement projects.
Part of the planning was done with the help of Safe Routes to School, a federal program designed to encourage walking and biking to school by improving sidewalks, crosswalks and traffic conditions in areas around schools.
In part because of the program, then number of children walking to school instead of being driven has increased 27 percent in the morning and 24 percent in the afternoon since 2007, according to a study by the National Center for Safe Routes to School.
“School support for walking and biking is an important element in parents’ decisions to allow or to encourage their children to make this transportation choice,” Lauren Marchetti, director of the National Center for Safe Routes to School, said in a press release about the program. “Together, schools, families and communities can help integrate physical activity into daily life.”
The Department of Public Works and school officials will hold an information session for members of the public on Wednesday, March 26, starting at 7 p.m. at Roton Middle School at 201 Highland Ave. The full plans were made available for review in the DPW’s offices in City Hall as of Monday.
“Residents, business owners and other interested parties are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to discuss this project involving sidewalk and other improvements in and around Roton Middle School in order to create a safer walking environment for students, parents and the public,” the Department of Public Works said in a press release.