Details of the effort to create safer routes to the school, according to KidsWalk Coalition program manager Matthew Rufo, include:
- Sidewalks will be repaired along two designated routes that include Pitt, Pine, Garfield, Lowerline, Prytania and Hurst Streets.
- High-visibility crosswalks will be installed at the four corners of the school’s campus.
- Flashing school zone beacons will be installed at the existing school zone signs on Broadway and on S. Carrollton.
- Pedestrian countdown signals will be installed at the intersection of St. Charles and Broadway.
- Curb extensions will be installed at the intersections of Broadway and Garfield and Hurst.
- Parking and no-parking zones will be striped surrounding the school block.
For more information, see the news release issued by the Prevention Research Center of Tulane University:
Sidewalks, crosswalks and traffic signals will be upgraded in parts of New Orleans East and around Audubon Charter School’s campuses, thanks to two Safe Routes to School projects announced today by the KidsWalk Coalition.
Funded by the federal Department of Transportation and supported by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, the Safe Routes to School program seeks to improve the health of kids and communities by making walking and bicycling to school safer, easier and more enjoyable. This year, the KidsWalk Coalition coordinated four joint applications between the City of New Orleans and New Orleans organizations.
Safe Routes to School provides up to $250,000 for improvements to sidewalks, crosswalks, signage, and traffic signals and other pedestrian infrastructure, and up to $50,000 for education, encouragement and enforcement programs. The state awarded Vietnamese Initiatives in Economic Training (VIET) a total of $299,306 to improve pedestrian safety in the Michoud and Village de l’Est neighborhoods and organize programs for students at Einstein Charter School. Audubon Charter School received $276,984 for similar uses at its two campuses in Black Pearl.
“Streets safe for walking make healthier neighborhoods,” said Kathryn Parker-Karst, Director of the KidsWalk Coalition, a local partnership of public health and transportation organizations that is led by the Prevention Research Center at Tulane University. “We are thrilled that students at Audubon Charter and Einstein Charter Schools will have more opportunities to incorporate physical activity into their daily lives.”
“The Michoud community is excited about the grant that will provide our children a safe route to school,” said Cyndi Nguyen, Executive Director of VIET. “The success of this project clearly indicates that as community groups, we can help leverage resources to improve infrastructure in our own community.”
“The Safe Routes to School grant will significantly benefit Audubon Charter School’s students and our neighborhood by increasing pedestrian and bicycling safety and supporting infrastructure improvements, such as flashing school beacons, crosswalk markings, and sidewalk repairs,” said Janice A. Dupuy, Principal/CEO of Audubon Charter School. “It will enable us to continue to build a healthier school environment for our students by encouraging walking and biking to school.”
“Sidewalk and street safety are very important around schools,” said Lt. Col. Mark Jernigan, Director of Public Works for the City of New Orleans. “These infrastructure improvements will make the Audubon Charter and Einstein Charter School communities more walkable for young and old alike.”
“Before we become drivers, we are pedestrians and often cyclists. It’s important that kids learn pedestrian and bicycle safety skills that they can carry with them throughout life,” said Shalanda Cole, DOTD Safe Routes to School Statewide Coordinator. “The DOTD Safe Routes to School Program aims to make walking and cycling to school both safe and fun for kids throughout Louisiana. The ultimate goal here is to increase the number of kids who walk and ride their bikes to school. We look forward to working with the sponsors and partnering organizations to provide these improvements and programs to children in New Orleans.”
To date, six New Orleans schools and organizations have been awarded Safe Routes to School grants.
The KidsWalk Coalition is a local partnership of government agencies and public health, transportation and community organizations dedicated to improving the health of New Orleanians by creating opportunities for physical activity. Its mission is to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic in New Orleans by making walking and bicycling safe for children and families to access schools, healthy eating choices and other neighborhood destinations. The Prevention Research Center at Tulane University is its lead agency, and members include the New Orleans Department of Public Works, the Regional Planning Commission, Communities in School, Friends of Lafitte Corridor, Neighborhoods Partnership Network, Bike Easy, Louisiana Public Health Institute, AARP, UNO Transportation Institute and many other community organizations.