Ribbon Cutting Celebrates Completion of Pedestrian Access, Safety Improvements at Parker Middle School
Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Highway Administrator, Frank DePaola, joined Reading officials, school administrators and parents for a ribbon cutting and student presentation to celebrate the completion of pedestrian access and safety improvements surrounding the W.S. Parker Middle School campus. The project was made possible by MassDOT using federal Safe Routes to School program funds.
“MassDOT is committed to maintaining and constructing a safe and reliable roadway network for all its users. We are focused not only on drivers but also on the safety of bicyclists and even the youngest pedestrians,” said MassDOT Highway Administrator Frank DePaola.
W.S. Parker Middle School’s new and enhanced infrastructure improves access and safety for students that walk and bike and supports the community’s participation in the Safe Routes to School program. MassDOT’s engineers constructed several hundred feet of new sidewalk and buffers along Washington Street, between Woburn and Prescott Streets. The project also included 650 feet of new sidewalk along Sunnyside Avenue, between Prescott Street and Fairview Avenue, new wheelchair ramps, pavement markings, traffic and pedestrian warning signs and minor drainage modifications.
W.S. Parker Middle School students are also participating in the new Massachusetts Safe Routes to School PhotoVoice initiative and presented their personal experiences walking and biking to school including how MassDOT’s recent infrastructure improvements have improved pedestrian safety in their community. MassDOT’s Safe Routes to School program introduced PhotoVoice in the fall of 2012, with W.S. Parker Middle School as the first School Partner to participate.
The Photovoice program is a unique approach to teaching students how to identify strengths and barriers surrounding pedestrian safety in their community. Students demonstrate “walkabilty” and “bikeability” through photos that they take on a typical walk to and from school and by incorporating these photos into writing exercises and group presentations. W.S. Parker Middle School is one of 575 Massachusetts schools participating in MassDOT’s Safe Routes to School program.
These participating elementary and middle schools, located in 165 communities throughout the Commonwealth, receive year-round pedestrian and bicycle safety education instruction as well as engagement initiatives tailored to meet each school’s physical fitness, safety and environmental priorities.
The Massachusetts Safe Routes to School program distinguishes itself from other state’s efforts by providing a central source of Safe Routes services to all interested schools in Massachusetts.
MassDOT’s Safe Routes to School model of inclusiveness emphasizes a collaborative, community-focused approach that fosters partnerships between advocacy groups, law enforcement, education leaders and public health departments. This broad foundation of resources embeds the Safe Routes to School program into the culture of every participating community. In addition, the Patrick-Murray Administration, through MassDOT, engages an on-call team of school engineers, planners, and bicycle/pedestrian experts to plan, design, and build targeted infrastructure improvements that enhance student access to walking and bicycle paths so that may increase their physical activity. These experts analyze current travel patterns and conditions, identify safety problems, and work with school officials and community leaders to design and construct solutions to reduce traffic speeds and improve pedestrian and bicycle access.
To find out how your school can become a Safe Routes to School Partner, contact Samantha Fonseca-Moreira, the Statewide Safe Routes to School Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.mass.gov/massdot/saferoutes
For transportation news and updates, visit the MassDOT website at www.mass.gov/massdot, the MassDOT blog at www.mass.gov/blog/transportation or follow MassDOT on twitter at www.twitter.com/massdot