City eyes school zone safety

Northglenn considers studying safety at all schools

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Northglenn is on a short list to receive a $190,000 grant to help improve pedestrian safety features at North Mar School, reported the city’s director of public works David Willett.

Willett talked about the grant during City Council’s March 3 study session, as part of a discussion about citywide school zone traffic assessments.

“The grant is specific to right of way to getting kids safe to school, whether it’s walking or bicycle,” Willett said, adding that this could include a raised median, flashing lights and new signage.

City staff worked with Adams 12 Five Star Schools and the Colorado Department of Transportation on the grant.

Staff began a comprehensive school zone assessment at North Mor Elementary School after a vehicle struck a pedestrian in 2013. All total, about $20,000 was spent in staff time and consultant fees for the assessment.

The city came up with a set of improvements that could be made by both the city in the right-of-way areas and the school district on their property if the city does not receive the grant. Those improvements would total more than $300,000, but neither the school district nor the city have committed to these improvements.

Council directed staff to hold off on any more planning until there is news of the grant.

Meanwhile, staff proposed doing comprehensive school zone assessments on other schools in the city, starting with the elementary schools. Willett said that these assessments would cost the city $20,000 to $30,000 for each school. Some council members said they weren’t interested in doing those assessments unless the school district shows interest in making the proposed improvements.

Willett said that despite what the district does, the city could still make its own right-of-way improvements and the assessments would not be as thorough or as costly.

“I don’t think you can eliminate the risk of traffic incidences, whether it’s a vehicle striking a child or a parent or a vehicle striking another vehicle,” he said. “I don’t think anyone can say we can eliminate that. But there are certainly things that both the school and the city can do to mitigate the risk of that happening.”

City staff was supposed to meet with school district officials this week to discuss doing assessments at other schools.

The assessments are holistic in nature and include such things as a concept level survey of the local area and school property, documentation of roadway signage and stripping, identify traffic patterns and pedestrian routes and conduct personal interviews. This information could be used for future grant applications to fund the improvements.