School sidewalk job in schedule for 2013
John S. Hagen
Two students walk along the Old Haines Highway and the Haines school last week.
Students appear likely to again be walking between traffic and a snow berm getting to Haines School next winter.
Steve Soenksen, coordinator of the state Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School program, said this week the state is advancing a $700,000 plan to build a sidewalk on the north side of Old Haines Highway from Third Avenue to Allen Road.
The federal program provides money to ensure that students can safely walk or ride a bike to classes.
But chances are slim that work will be done in 2012, he said. That’s because it’s paid for with federal money, which requires environmental review and other paperwork, Soenksen said. “They don’t give us a blank check.”
DOT plans to extend sidewalk along Old Haines Highway from the cruise ship dock to Third Avenue this coming summer, using state cruise ship head tax revenues. But because the funding sources for the two projects differ, they can’t be combined, according to DOT.
Earlier borough plans called for a walking path away from the highway, paralleling the high school track. Moving student routes away from roads is ideal, but the sidewalk option involves easier maintenance, Soenksen said.
“If it’s adjacent to the roadway they can plow it at the same time they plow the road. Maintenance has a big influence on the way it is and how it works,” he said.
Haines Borough is set to receive another Safe Routes to School planning grant of $9,000 to pay for preparing a final action plan, he said.