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Safe Routes to School walks with full funding

SUQUAMISH — Suquamish students are going to see just how far $500,000 will go before the sidewalk ends — it could take them all the way to school safely.

At least that’s what Gail Petranek hopes.

She’s been one of the driving forces during the last four years to attain funding for the Suquamish Safe Routes to School plan. Her work finally came home May 15 as Gov. Christine Gregoire signed off on the bill, awarding $500,000 in Washington State Department of Transportation grant money to the project.

“We actually receive the money July 1, but the bill was signed,” Petranek said. “We’ll do Park (Boulevard) first, then Geneva (Street) and Division (Avenue) last. I don’t believe we’ll start them this summer. I think the goal is to start construction next summer after school gets out.”

Kitsap County Public Works transportation planner Greg Cioc said the county received the cost estimate for the project at the beginning of this week and could comfortably put sidewalks and pedestrian-friendly routes on Park Boulevard and Geneva Street, but he is still working on funding for Division Avenue. He said he is applying for a Rural Town Centers and Corridors grant due this Friday that could provide the necessary money.

“The other part is that the stormwater maintenance is doing the drainage,” Cioc said. This means public works’ surface and stormwater management office will pay for the project’s stormwater-related costs. “This is a partnership type relationship. There are some things that need to be done first.”

The Suquamish Citizens Advisory Committee, of which Petranek is a member, backs the plan, and members Craig Curtis and Tom Curley also worked on the grant process before submitting the application. Cioc said the committee must decide which streets to improve and in what order, basically the best way to approach and complete the project.

“The SCAC has a few decisions before them,” he said. “We’re trying to figure out what way to go down.”

Petranek said the committee couldn’t do much until it received the governor’s OK, and made only vague plans while hoping for the best. Ginelle Todd’s third grade class wrote letters to accompany the grant, she said, to illustrate how much the funds were needed in the area. The Suquamish Tribe was also in favor of the bill, and will continue to support the project, said Tribal Chairman Leonard Forsman.

“This is not about the glory, it’s just about one child not getting hit in this community,” Petranek said.

The SCAC meets at 6:30 p.m. the first Thursday of the month at the Suquamish Elementary School’s library, and any interested residents are welcome to attend and hear more about Safe Routes to School.

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