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Pathway to completion

by: SUBMITTED - River Grove Elementary School began to put a new emphasis on participation in International Walk to School Day in October 2008. Parents organized walking groups so kids could stay together with supervision.

A Pilkington Road pathway envisioned years ago will be completed by summers end


A need identified seven years ago is finally on the path to completion. Pilkington and McEwan roads will both get a pathway this summer through the federal Safe Routes to School grant program.

Currently, there is no dedicated space for a pedestrian to walk along either road. Kids who walk to school, particularly River Grove Elementary School, are in danger of getting hit by motorists, as actually happened in 2010 when a Lakeridge High School freshman was hit in the early morning while crossing the street near a bus stop. The student suffered a fractured leg.

"The pathways are either too narrow or they're too wet and muddy or too obstructed with brush, so kids walk in the street," Nancy Verstegen, principal of River Grove Elementary, told the Review in 2008. "In the winter time when it's dark and rainy, it is hard to see students, so most parent won't allow their kids to walk or ride bike once Daylight Savings ends."by: SUBMITTED - When the planning process for a Pilkington pathway was in its early stages, a group of unicyclists road from their Lake Forest neighborhood to River Grove Elementary School one day.

The project, which is being managed through the city of Lake Oswego, was contracted to Eagle Elsner, which is scheduled to complete the work before Aug. 31. The work will create an asphalt path from Jean Road to Southwest Dawn Avenue as well as a small stretch of Southwest McEwan Road, which runs in front of River Grove Elementary School.

The vision began in 2005 when the Rosewood Neighborhood Association included a bike and pedestrian pathway along the two roads during the drafting of its neighborhood plan. Rosewood, which lies mostly in unincorporated Clackamas County just north of the city of Rivergrove, put the path on its wish list, however, "nothing was going to happen because no one had any money," Peter Klaebe, Rosewood Neighborhood Association chair, said.

It wasn't until 2007 that Klaebe got the idea from Steve Wheeler, the former Tualatin city manager who is now Clackamas County administrator, to advocate for a feasibility study. While the county agreed to partially fund the study, a joint financial commitment from the Lake Oswego City Council stalled for a few months until former councilor John Turchi (also former River Grove Elementary School principal) pushed for $25,000 in support.

During this process, Klaebe talked to Lake Oswego School Board member Linda Brown, who suggested pursuing a Safe Routes to Schools grant. Throughout 2008, a contracted firm conducted the feasibility study that would inform the grant application the following year.by: DEBBIE MARBLE - In 2005, artist Debbie Marble painted a watercolor impression of a Pilkington pathway to support a petition drive for neighborhood support.

Meanwhile, the neighborhood worked to inform parents about the need for a better pathway for students; volunteers helped to clear debris from the side of the road to make more room for pedestrians; and River Grove Elementary School put a renewed focus on the International Walk to School Day.

A grant award of $495,000 was announced in February 2010 for fiscal year 2010-2011, however the funding was deferred until 2011-2012 because of a backlog of projects.

The funding comes through the Oregon Safe Routes to School Program, which administers federal funding from the Transportation Bill. The program promotes walking and biking to school as a part of a healthy lifestyle and aims to reduce traffic, fuel consumption and air pollution within two miles of elementary schools.




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