A new trail designed to enable local students to walk or bike to and from school now legally can be constructed.
The Columbus Board of Public Works and Safety the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. board both approved easements to allow the school district to construct a pedestrian and bike trail along Rocky Ford Road down to Richards Elementary School, 3311 Fairlawn Drive.
The trail will allow students at Richards Elementary to safely walk or ride bicycles to school as part of the Safe Routes to School program.
Bartholomew Consolidated received a Safe Routes to School grant from the Indiana Department of Transportation in 2010.
The grant was designed to enable Bartholomew Consolidated to build new pathways around Columbus that encourage students to walk or ride their bikes to school.
The program also is meant to cut down on safety concerns, such as heavy traffic, that might cause parents to put their children on the bus or drive them to school themselves.
In the 2012 Safe Routes to School comprehensive plan, incomplete sidewalk systems were identified as the largest hindrances to Richards students who want to walk or bike to school. To alleviate that problem, Bartholomew Consolidated included a recommendation in the plan for a path leading to Richards Elementary from Rocky Ford to Fairlawn.
The City of Columbus owns the land where the path would be located, so the school district is obligated by federal grant requirements to have an easement to proceed with construction, school attorney Kelly Benjamin told board members at their December meeting.
Under the terms of the easements, Bartholomew Consolidated will oversee construction of the trail, while the city will maintain it as it does other trails located within the city, Benjamin said.
Both boards passed the easements unanimously earlier this month.
Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. is using the grant money it received from the Indiana Department of Transportation to work with consultants to create safe walking and biking paths for students at nine BCSC schools, including:
- Columbus Signature Academy – Lincoln campus
- Parkside Elementary School
- Richards Elementary School
- Schmitt Elementary School
- Smith Elementary School
- Southside Elementary School
- Taylorsville Elementary School
- Central Middle School
- Northside Middle School
Infrastructure improvements and additions could include sidewalk construction or repairs, enhanced lighting, bicycle parking, traffic control or other improvements.