When on-campus classes begin, students who walk or bike to four local schools will have safer routes to travel after the Town of Apple Valley completed several roadway improvement projects.
Town officials announced Monday that the completed improvements were identified as priorities in the “Town’s Safe Routes to Schools Master Plan” that was adopted by the Town Council in 2017.
The projects focused on the most commonly used routes to Sandia Academy, Apple Valley High School, Mariana Academy and the Rio Vista School of Applied Learning.
The Apple Valley Unified School District announced Friday that beginning March 8, the district will return to its hybrid, in-person model for preschool and transitional kindergarten through 6th grades.
The California Department of Transportation’s Senate Bill 1, better known as the gas tax, provided a $3.4 million grant to pay for the projects.
One project included a new curb, gutter and sidewalk to portions of Manhasset and Sandia roads.
Another project was the reconstruction of nearly two miles of the Class 1 bike path along portions of Navajo and Tussing Ranch roads to Mendel Park near Mariana Academy.
Work at Rio Vista included a new curb, gutter, sidewalks, ADA ramps, and high-visibility crosswalks providing a separated pathway where none previously existed.
Also, a 10-foot wide multi-use path was constructed on the south side of Cronese Lane near Rio Vista, which may serve as an alternate drop-off location for parents.
The Rio Vista project was funded partly by a Transportation Development Act grant provided by the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority.
“Timing was a key factor in these projects,” said Town Engineer Brad Miller. “Because of current events, the contractors utilized this time as many students were distance learning and completed the work without disrupting student pick-up and drop-off procedures.”
To create the master plan, the KOA Corporation conducted a study that included on-site walking tours, parent surveys, and an interactive tool that used geographic information systems to identify concerns.
In addition to Mariana, Sandia and Rio Vista schools, the master plan recommended enhancements at seven other schools in the AVUSD.
Partners in the master plan, AVUSD worked with the town’s design engineers to design a new parking area at Mariana Academy that improves traffic flow. Additional complementary developments are in the planning phase.
While the town’s improvements were under construction, AVUSD took the opportunity to improve parking and circulation at Sycamore Rocks Elementary, which was also a part of the master plan.
“About 65% of the school children in Apple Valley live within one mile of their school. Prior to construction, most students were driven in cars,” said Town Project Administrator Rich Berger. “The goal of the project was to increase the number of children who walk or bike to school when in-person learning resumes.”
Berger said the Town will continue to look for new projects outlined in the master plan to improve other schools when these types of funding opportunities arise.
For more information on the Safe Routes to Schools Master Plan, call 760-240-7000 Ext. 7530.
Daily Press reporter Rene Ray De La Cruz may be reached at 760-951-6227 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @DP_ReneDeLaCruz.