Workshop to discuss safe routes plan for Merced elementary schools

aibarra @mercedsunstar.comJune 24, 2014 

The streets that surround Franklin Elementary and Joe Stefani Elementary schools have been plagued with traffic and circulation issues for years. In an attempt to address these problems, Merced County, with the help of the California Department of Transportation, has developed the Franklin-Beachwood Safe Routes Plan.

According to the county’s plan outline, the goal of the project is to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety throughout the community. County officials and a Caltrans design team will meet with residents today to select a final infrastructure plan for the county.

Today’s public workshop will take place at 6 p.m. at Franklin Elementary School, 2736 Franklin Road.

Merced County also teamed up with local organizations to help attract community input. One of the organizations involved was the Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program.

Claudia Corchado, the health services program manager at CCROPP, said community members have been working with the county to give their input on where paved sidewalks, bike lanes and stop signs are needed. CCROPP’s priority is to promote healthy and active neighborhoods, something that can be made possible with safer roads, Corchado said.

The plan has been in the works since last fall, but this planning phase is still only an initial stage. Planning is made possible by the Caltrans Environmental Justice Transportation Planning Grant received by Merced County.

To move into a construction phase, the county would have to compete for additional grants. Community engagement must be ensured to attain the grants, Corchado said.

Participation has been constant throughout the public meetings, she added, with 40 to 60 residents sharing ideas and opinions.

A similar initiative has been taking place in Planada for a project that seeks to improve the streets around Cesar E. Chavez Middle School.

Sun-Star staff writer Ana B. Ibarra can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or aibarra@mercedsunstar.com.

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