Federal funding supports infrastructure work in vicinity of schools
Congressman Brian Higgins and Mayor Brian Kulpa announced the beginning of construction on a number of sidewalk improvements in the Village of Williamsville. More than $460,000 in federal funding, provided through the U.S. Department of Transportation's "Safe Routes to School" program, will be invested in Williamsville infrastructure enhancements.
"These improvements will provide a safe place for children to play and get to school, enhance the streetscape in local neighborhoods, and continue efforts to promote a pedestrian-friendly village atmosphere," Higgins said.
"This project will make our village more walkable for those who use our sidewalks the most: Our children," Kulpa said. "New sidewalks will help them get to school safely while allowing them to develop active lifestyles and a sense of independence."
Trustee Basil Piazza pointed out the project will greatly increase safety for pre-school-age children. Currently, parents walking with their young children are forced to walk in streets right next to moving cars.
"The new sidewalks will certainly eliminate this obviously very dangerous condition," Piazza said. "This 'Safe Routes to School' program is a prime example of excellent use of federal funding to enhance our quality-of-life here in Williamsville."
"When the weather cooperates, many of our students walk or bike to school," said Dr. Scott Martzloff, Williamsville superintendent. "We commend the Village of Williamsville for partnering with the national 'Safe Routes to School' program to make our local pathways safer for children."
The "Safe Routes to School" program helps children understand the importance of safety and also promotes healthy lifestyles by encouraging exercise. The Williamsville Central School District has been involved in the "Safe Routes to School" program since 2008 when it collaborated with the Town of Amherst in securing a federal grant to develop a "Kid Corridors Plan" to promote walking and bicycling to school among Williamsville's K-8 students.
Sidewalk improvements will take place along portions of the following 15 roads: School Street, North Ellicott Street, Eagle Street, Belmont Place, Edward Street, Gordon Street, Arend Street, Chalmers Street, Stanton Street, Glen Avenue, North Long Street, Park Drive, Garden Parkway, Oakgrove Drive and Hirschfield Drive.
The work is targeted in the areas surrounding Mill Middle School, Williamsville South High School, Christian Central Academy and SS Peter & Paul School. Construction begins next week and will continue through the fall.
The "Safe Routes to School" initiative, first established through the 2005 federal highway bill, provides funding to give children and parents more efficient and safer options to walk or bike to school. In 2008, the national "Safe Routes to School" task force released a report providing recommendations to make walking and bicycling safely to school a reality for school children as a means to promote healthy lifestyles and reduce traffic congestion.
For more information on the Williamsville "Safe Routes to School" project, including detailed descriptions of project areas, visit http://www.walkablewilliamsville.com/safe-routes-to-school.html.