A path leading to safe, healthy steps
Sixth-grader Deisy Quintero, who lives near Monument Elementary School, walks to school most days.
The 11-year-old veteran walker is happy her trip from home to school is a little different this year.
Quintero used to cross the six blocks to school by using an old dirt farm road that ran between two big fields. A new walking and biking path covering that old road in concrete from 7th Avenue to 13th Avenue Southwest has made her walk to school easier these days.
“Now our shoes don’t get as dirty when it’s rainy,” she said. “Now rocks don’t get in our shoes.”
And it’s safer, Quintero added.
“Because now we know where to go,” she said.
On Wednesday, several local officials, as well as busloads of Monument students, gathered at the east entrance to the path to celebrate its completion with an early morning ribbon-cutting ceremony. The ceremony was held in conjunction with national Walk to School Day, which was Wednesday.
Mayor Jim Hemberry cut the celebratory ribbon as city, school and Grant County Health District officials looked on. Students who normally ride the bus to school were dropped off at the path’s 7th Avenue entrance so they could walk the 3,500-foot path to school.
The path has sparked so much enthusiasm from the kids that a second bike rack was added this year to the back of the school, said David Day, a city councilman as well as an employee of the school district.
“The other day, I went back there and that thing was full of bikes, Razors, scooters – it was really cool,” Day said.
The $216,000 path was completed in early August. It serves as a connection to not only Monument School but Lauzier Park as well.
The project, called the Quincy K-7 Pathway, is a project of the Safe Routes to School Program, which aims to provide school children a safe, healthy alternative to riding the bus or being driven to school. The Quincy project is being paid for with a $292,000 grant from the Washington State Department of Transportation and $50,000 from the City of Quincy; however, of those monies, $58,000 is earmarked for an education component.
The project is not quite finished. This summer, the Quincy City Council voted to remove the illumination portion of the pathway project to keep the project on budget. Hemberry said on Wednesday that the lighting will go out for bid in early 2016. The city also will be adding a lighted pedestrian safety sign near the path’s east entrance.
The path has signs warning that vehicles aren’t allowed on it; however, that has not stopped some drivers from trying to use the new walking path as a shortcut to the park or school, city officials said.
At least one driver has been cited for second-degree negligent driving after she drove down the path, forcing people to get out of the way of the moving vehicle, Police Chief Bob Heimbach said.
The bigger problem seems to be on weekends, he said. Cars are hopping the curb and going around barriers to drive down the path, Heimbach said. The city reminds drivers to stay off the path or they may be ticketed.
So far, the path is getting rave reviews.
The beautiful path has inspired students to either walk or bike to school, said Debra Knox, assistant principal at Monument School. While out at recess, Knox sees people using the path to get to the park. The path should be a source of pride for the community, she said.
“I have been here three years and have never seen a student ride a bike to school,” she said. “And now we have two bike racks.”
— By Jill FitzSimmons, email@example.com