Grant Money To Ease Access At Two Public Schools

NEWARK – Federal grant
money will make school access at two county schools safer, more pedestrian
friendly and more accessible for students, staff and the public.

The public schools of
Worcester County are partnering with the Worcester County Health Department and
the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) this year in improving
pedestrian access to two county schools through a federal grant program.

“This is sort of
unusual,” said Marty Pusey, director of prevention for the Worcester County
Health Department, on the partnership.

The funding, from the
federal Safe Routes to School initiative, will add ADA (Americans with
Disabilities Act) handicapped accessibility ramps, crosswalks and new sidewalks
at Berlin Intermediate School and Cedar Chapel Special School.

The Safe Routes
improvements will encourage children to walk or bike to school, increasing
safety, improving health, and could even reduce pollution and fossil fuel use.

The program also wants
to get its message across in more fun ways, using games and contests to
encourage walking, such as counting the miles a person has walked, Pusey said.

Pusey also spoke about
adding enforcement to the school areas, with police monitoring vehicle speeds,
to make walking safer for school children.

“Is it safe to walk,
safe to bike, safe to drive?” Pusey asked. 

This year, Berlin
Intermediate School and its surroundings will benefit from six new ADA ramps at
street corners and in parking lots, six new crosswalks and two new sections of
concrete sidewalk.

Cedar Chapel Special
School, which shares a building with Snow Hill Middle School, will see eight
ADA ramps, three sections of sidewalk, and two crosswalks added outside the
school and on the road leading to the school.

SHA has finished
construction specifications and drawings and will soon bid out the work on the
two schools.

Work on the
improvements, which should begin this fall, will not disturb school activities,
public schools Facilities Manager Joe Price said.

Buses will arrive and
depart as usual, with no work done at road entrances during those times, Price
said. Workers will also not have access to the school buildings at any time.

“It’s such a great
idea,” said Board of Education member Bob Rothermel.

Board of Education
member Sara Thompson lent her support as well, saying, “I think it’s a good
project.”

Snow Hill Elementary
School, across the street from Cedar Chapel Special School, will not see any
Safe Routes improvements this year, according to school board staff, because
there is less to do there and there is no funding currently.

Ed Barber, assistant
superintendent for administration, said that Cedar Chapel Special School has
been identified for quite awhile as a building needing sidewalk work.

A sidewalk to the high
school, a few blocks away down Coulbourne Lane, also needs to be installed,
Board member Donnie Shockley said. Students now must walk on the street or on
homeowners’ lawns.

“They desperately need
that and there’s no wheelchair accessibility on that side whatsoever,” said
Shockley.

A lot of kids travel
that road, walking over to the high school, he said.

The town of Snow Hill

might have to get involved with that, said Board Chair Bob Hulburd.

“We’ll work on it,” said Hulburd. 

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