PERU - Students will soon have a safer walk to school in the Peru Central School District.
The town of Peru has begun construction of a new sidewalk along School Street from Pleasant Street to Woodland Drive. In addition to getting students to the middle and high schools, the sidewalk will help those walking to and from the district's elementary and intermediate schools.
Ground was broken for the project Sept. 1, with local dignitaries and school district officials in attendance. Peru Town Supervisor Peter G. Glushko said the project, which is being funded by an $84,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration's Safe Routes to School program, has been a long time coming.
"This has been on and off for the past 12 years," Glushko said of the project's progress. "It's great to see this finally happen. It's been a big safety issue and a concern not only to the town government but to the school district, the neighbors and to the parents of the children who walk to and from school."
School district superintendent A. Paul Scott agreed.
"School Street is a busy thoroughfare each school year," said Scott. "This sidewalk project will promote increased pedestrian safety, particularly for the many children who walk to and from school and school activities each day throughout the school year."
Scott noted the sidewalk project - being completed by Tracy Trombley Construction Co., Morrisonville - will "dovetail particularly well" with the district's current capital project, which will see renovations and modernization of the district campus.
"We are very pleased the town of Peru was able to obtain federal funding for this project," added Scott. "I anticipate it will be very well used."
Grant coordinator Adele Douglas, who helped secure funding for the town project, said she's very happy to see the project move forward, acknowledging federally-funded projects can often be very slow moving forward.
"It's a relief to see progress," said Douglas. "I've been walking and biking this route with my daughter for five years, since she was in kindergarten. I'm glad that it'll be safer for her and for all the other kids going to and from school."
Though the sidewalk itself is the engineering component of Safe Routes to School, an educational component will be a part of the project as well. The school district's physical education teachers will use part of the Safe Routes to School program's curriculum to encourage walking and biking. At the end of the year, a survey will be conducted among children and parents to see if these activities have increased.
"Hopefully, the sidewalk will encourage more children to walk and bike to school," said Douglas.
The sidewalk installation is estimated to take two weeks to complete.