Mission project will look at getting students to school safely

Sara Goodburn faces a challenge for the SM North representative space on the Shawnee Mission School board?
SM North will be one of the schools included in the Mission study even though it lies in Overland Park.

By Sophie Tulp, shawneemissionpost.com intern

Mission is embarking on a project designed to get students to school more safely. The project involves four schools.

The Mission City Council voted this week to move forward with the Safe Routes to School Phase I Study, a $20,000 federal grant to examine how students travel to four schools in the Mission area: Highlands Elementary, Rushton Elementary, Horizons High School and SM North High School.

The study would measure vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian counts, and would ultimately provide a plan to show opportunities to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety for students traveling to these schools as well as updated public works projects to create safe routes to school like sidewalks or bike trails.

The City of Mission would spend $5,000 to be matched by the federal funds.

According to City Planner Danielle Murray, The City of Mission plans to begin the study in late August or September as school begins to take an initial count of the number of students who walk and bike to school. The study would wrap-up after nine months, and Phase II — the actual changes, would begin.

According to the proposal, the Safe Routes to School grant would “Ideally…help to identify and support future projects to help students travel safely to school that would be eligible for Federal construction funding.”

The Phase II grants would be used for local bike and pedestrian projects, like constructing sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, bike racks, and traffic safety techniques. Nearby cities such as Overland Park, Prairie Village and Olathe have also used this federal funding program.

To accept the grant, Mission must commit to matching the funds, up to $5,000, then the Kansas Department of Transportation will prepare an additional agreement for council action in the coming weeks.