Student safety draws attention

Resident wants better way to get children up dangerous street

A lack of sidewalks, combined with speeding vehicles, is a recipe for an accident and an elementary school student could be the victim, said Craig resident Paula Terry.

Terry and her husband attended Tuesday night's Moffat County School District Board of Education meeting to air a grievance and hoping for solutions. They got their chance after the meeting ended and school board members heard their case.

Terry has two children who attend East Elementary School. She walks them to school every day to prevent what she terms is an "accident waiting to happen."

The lack of sidewalks causes students to walk in the streets, and the children's natural exuberance doesn't limit them to the sides of the road.

Seventh Street is the main access to East Elementary and according to Principal Guy Gladden, nearly 30 students walk that street from surrounding neighborhoods. One of the main concerns, he said, is that driver's exceed the speed limit on Seventh Street.

Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta said there is a problem, but he isn't sure what the solution is.

"I'll be the first to admit people speed through there," he said, "but we very rarely catch anyone who's flying."

Vanatta said the department has done speed studies on Seventh Street, have placed the speed trailer in an attempt to slow drivers and do spot patrols of the area.

But Terry says that's not enough. She wants the children who have to walk Seventh Street bussed to school until sidewalks can be built.

But sidewalks are not a likely solution, City Manager Jim Ferree said.

"If we had the money," he said. "The problem is we don't have a sidewalk budget. We have money to spend on streets and curbs and alleys, and we don't have enough for that."

According to Ferree, the best way to get sidewalks installed along Seventh Street would be for the property owners to form an improvement district, where each property owner would cover a portion of the cost.

Ferree said the city could assist with the formation of an improvement district, but for the city to be directly involved in building sidewalks, the City Council must first establish it as a priority.

"Typically we haven't been involved in sidewalk projects except on our property," Ferree said. "It takes everything we have just to keep the streets up."

School board members suggested forming a partnership with the city to address the problem.

Terry plans to attend tonight's City Council meeting to address the problem there.

The most likely answer is for the school district to provide a bus, which is against current school district policy, but is not opposed by the school board.

According to policy, the school district is only required to provide transportation for elementary school students who live more than a mile-and-a-quarter away.

Terry walks more than five blocks from her Tucker Street home to take her daughters to school.

This isn't the first complaint that's been made about the traffic on Seventh Street. Several years ago Craig resident Kent Ketchum responded to a near child/vehicle accident by volunteering his time as a crossing guard. He has since moved to the Ridgeview subdivision, but still volunteers occasionally.

The school district isn't turning a deaf earn to Terry's complaint. Transportation director Jim Baptist is considering providing a bus to get the students to school, but has not yet made his final decision.

"I'm expecting a solution by Friday," Gladden said.

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