ST. GEORGE — The city of Hildale is working to receive funding for road projects that will make walking and biking to school safer for students.
“We’re going to apply for everything we can get because we have so much work to do on our roads and our sidewalks to make it so the kids are safe,” Mayor Donia Jessop said. “We are going to go every single year and ask for everything we can get and do the best we can and make it stretch.”
Some grant money has already helped the town implement sidewalk improvements. Hildale was awarded $175,000 in 2018 from the Safe Routes to School grant from the Utah Department of Transportation, which was used to create sidewalks on Utah Avenue for kids who walk to school.
Hildale citizen John Barlow said the awarded amount might not be a big deal for other communities, but “it made a big, big difference for us.” He said the intersection of Central Street and Utah Avenue was “pretty dangerous,” but the project made the area “a lot more safe for kids to navigate.”
“I think Hildale is a good example of why this program is important and that the legislators did a good thing,” he said.
According to Jessop, it was the first time that the city applied for any grant, and they were awarded the full amount.
The city recently put in another application for next year with other infrastructure projects in mind.
If the city receives the grant for the 2020 fiscal year, Jessop said the city plans to make changes to a dangerous corner that claimed the life of a child waiting for the bus years ago. She said the road, Canyon Street, includes a blind corner and significant elevation change that make it dangerous for children who are walking to school.
Hildale is also looking to use grant funds to create a four-way stop with flashing lights at the intersection of Carling Street and Utah Avenue. According to Jessop, the expansion of the high school and opening of new amenities – such as a technical building, football field and baseball field – is going to increase vehicle and pedestrian traffic in that area.
After the installation of the new amenities, Water Canyon High School is expanding to meet the increased growth Short Creek has seen. The school is “bursting at the seams,” which is “indicative of a healthy, growing community,” Jessop explained.
“When you have enough education, enough space to educate your kids, your community can change,” she said. “Education changes everything. Having a school here made it so we have the education in place so that our kids can stabilize here. Without that education, there is nothing to stabilize.”
UDOT created the Safe Routes Utah grant to meet the growing concern for the safety of children who walk or bike to school. The main purpose of the program is to facilitate safely walking or biking for students who live 1.5-2 miles from school.
“Above all else, the important thing is that now kids have somewhere safe to walk to school,” Barlow said.
Funding from the program can also be used for education and encouragement programs or physical improvements.
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