Thursday, August 29, 2019
St. John the Baptist Parish – To celebrate completion of two Safe Routes to Public Places projects, President Natalie Robottom and her staff joined design engineer Taylor Marino with Digital Engineering, Zachary Collier with EMC Consultants, and Clay James with the Department of Transportation and Development for a ribbon cutting ceremony. Also, on hand for the ceremony were Capital Projects Administrator Daron Cooper, Facilities Manager Donald Rixner, Grants Administrator Myra Valentine, and Teri Abadie and D’Neil Figuero representing the Economic Development Department. The projects as completed target public safety and quality of life of our residents. These types of projects are a continuation of miles of parish walking and biking trails throughout the parish.
Designed by Digital Engineering, sidewalks were installed near LaPlace Elementary School (LES) and East St. John Preparatory Academy (ESJ Prep). The projects aim to improve safety, reduce traffic congestion, increase physical activity and improve health by making it easier for students to walk and bicycle to school. The project involves construction of sidewalks, cross walks, handicapped ramps, and signage.
The $616,540 project was 100% funded through a Department of Transportation and Development’s (DOTD) Safe Routes to School Infrastructure Grant. Officials gathered near LES to cut the ribbon near the almost 3000 linear feet of sidewalks along the canal bank between Carmel Valley Dr. and Fairway Dr. Kass Brothers constructed the newly completed project. Immediately following this location, a ribbon cutting was conducted with students and faculty near ESJ Prep. This project included 2200 linear feet of sidewalks from Airline Hwy to the school, along Belle Pointe Blvd and Ory Dr. The project was extended to connect to the newly renovated school. These projects create safe pedestrian connections from the neighborhoods to schools.
“It was a pleasure working with St. John officials on this much needed project that enhances safety for students in the community,” said Marino with Digital Engineering. Collier added, ““ECM Consultants is proud to be part of the team that included Louisiana DOTD and St. John Parish to bring this project to fruition.”
As part of the educational component of the grant, multiple Walk/Bike to School Days were held including one prior to the ribbon cutting Wednesday. This involves educating students regarding safe biking and walking, and providing helmets, healthy drinks and snacks. Participants were taught the importance of wearing helmets and knee pads and riding bikes in a safe environment such as staying on sidewalks and using safe-crossings.
“Thousands of school children now have more opportunities to walk and bike to schools because of the Safe Routes to School program,” said President Robottom. “More students walking, and biking means less traffic on the road and near schools, improving safety and promoting healthier kids.” “We are very appreciative of DOTD for selecting us to receive this grant and we want to thank our partners for working side by side with us throughout this process.”