By JOE LoTEMPLIO
---- — SARANAC — A major grant has been obtained to improve a well-used but nerve-wracking walking path in the Saranac Central School District.
“Kids have been walking between schools up there for years, and I am shocked that no one has ever been hit,” Clinton County Legislator Robert Butler (R-Area 6, Saranac) said.
“It’s an accident waiting to happen. Especially in winter.”
The federal grant for $371,844 from the Safe Routes to School program will allow for a 10-foot-wide, 2,300-foot-long multi-use path to be paved from Saranac High School to the Elementary School on Picketts Corners Road off Route 3.
The money comes to Clinton County through the State Department of Transportation; other recently awarded Safe Routes grants will also improve pedestrian safety for students at Peru Central School, Saranac Lake Central and schools in Malone.
Now, pedestrians and bikers in Saranac travel the stretch between schools on a grassy area on the shoulder of the road, largely next to the baseball field and tennis courts.
In the winter, most of the walking area is covered with snow piled high from plows, and people, namely students, have to walk in the road.
The grant will allow for a wider path with guide rails between the road and walking area for more safety.
Two flashing school-zone/speed-limit signs powered by solar panels will also be installed, along with designated crosswalks.
Design of the project will begin in the fall, with construction scheduled for 2014.
Once completed, the path will become the responsibility of the School District, which will handle repairs, maintenance and snow removal.
School Superintendent Kenneth Cringle said receiving the grant for the new path was great news.
“We have a number of student athletes who commute between schools for practices, and safety has always been a concern,” he said.
“We are extremely pleased to get this because it will not only be great for the school but for the community as well.”
Cringle and Butler credited County Highway Superintendent Al Rascoe for his help in putting together the county’s application for the grant.
Butler, a retired Saranac Central educator, said competition for grant money in the Safe Routes to Schools program was tough. Projects had to meet the main criteria of benefiting a county road, a township and a school district.
“This is something we’ve wanted to do for a long time,” he said.
“Finally, the stars were all aligned, and money was available, and it’s just great for the community.”
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