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Sep 7, 2010 9:38 PM by Ariel Wesler

Safer school routes on the way for Nipomo kids

Kids at Nipomo Elementary will soon have a safer way to get to school thanks to a federal grant. The Federal Safe Route to School Grant will improve access for students by getting them off the road.

The project will construct a bicycle and pedestrian path on Beechnut Avenue, bridges over Haystack Creek, and sidewalks along Price Street and Thompson Avenue.

"We have a lot of kids that live on this street and a lot of them dart out in the street."

Alyson Duft takes her two kids to Nipomo Elementary every day and says she regularly sees cars speed past the school.

"They don't slow down, so it'll be nice that we'll have some safer streets to walk," Duft said.

A new project will begin this week to put in sidewalks, bike paths, and walkways in the school's surrounding areas. School officials say a majority of kids walk to and from campus.

A crosswalk runs across Thompson Avenue, a main road near the school, but when the kids get to the other side, there's no crosswalk to keep them off the street.

"They're going to extend the sidewalk down Price Street, and put in V-swells," said Facilities and Maintenance Manger Kevin Baker with the Lucia Mar Unified School District.

That will help with drainage concerns. Bridges will also be placed over areas of Haystack Creek, which parents say will make a big difference for kids.

"They either have to go all the way around or they'll go through them and it's pretty dangerous," Duft said.

With kids no longer forced to the streets, parents and school officials say they're helping to prevent what has been an accident waiting to happen.

"Really, the safety component is huge. Anytime you can get kids off the street or give them a delineated path that they can follow that's safe. That's always the best," Baker said.

A local company, R. Simons, has been awarded the $600,000 construction contract. Construction is set to begin Thursday. San Luis Obispo County Public Works says anyone driving to and from school should allow a few extra minutes to get around.

Safe Route to School funding is also helping other schools like Grover Heights Elementary in Grover Beach and Ocean View Elementary in Arroyo Grande.

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