Children at Mariana Academy, Sandia Academy, and Apple Valley High School will soon find it easier to walk or bike to school thanks to a $3.4 million grant from the California Department of Transportation.
The funding comes from the Senate Bill 1 Gas Tax fund and will be used to add curb, gutter, and sidewalk to portions of Manhasset and Sandia roads. In addition, the Class 1 bike path along Navajo road will be reconstructed from Apple Valley High School to Tussing Ranch Road, and along Tussing Ranch Road from Navajo Road to Mendel Park.
These improvements were identified as priorities in the Town’s Safe Routes to Schools Master Plan that was presented to the Apple Valley Town Council at the October 24 meeting. Per the guidelines of the grant, construction must be completed in the fiscal year 2018-19.
“We should obtain environmental clearance by the end of this year, and we will solicit for a design consultant in early 2018,” said Project Administrator Rich Berger. “About 65% of the school children in Apple Valley live within one mile of their school, but most students are driven in private cars. We want to increase the number of children walking and biking to school. This project will help make that happen.”
In addition to Mariana and Sandia schools, the master plan recommended enhancements at eight additional schools in the Apple Valley Unified School District. The study, conducted by KOA Corporation, included on-site walking tours, parent surveys, and an interactive tool that used geographic information systems to identify concerns.
“The Town’s mission is to provide a ‘Better Way of Life’ and the safe routes to school’s grant provides safety for residents without diverting funding for other planned infrastructure,” said Town spokesperson Gina Whiteside, who shared that the Town aggressively pursues grant funding as it becomes available.
Interim Town Manager Lori Lamson noted that the completion of the Safe Routes to Schools Master Plan was funded through a Sustainable Communities Planning Grant, with matching funds from Measure I and Apple Valley Unified School District.
“We value the partnership we have with Apple Valley Unified School District. Having this comprehensive plan already completed played a factor in obtaining these additional grant funds,” said Lamson, who explained that the work on these projects will not pull funding from the Town’s general fund.
For more information on the Safe Routes to Schools Master Plan, call (760) 240-7000, x 7530.