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City, school district will build a safer route to Mabel Rush Elementary

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City projects — Project scheduled for the summer will provide several safety and bicycle improvements onsite and on Deborah Road

Written by Colin Staub
Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Several improvements promoting safe transportation are planned for construction at Mabel Rush Elementary School and its surrounding streets.

Two flashing school zone signs will be installed along Deborah Avenue with radar signs to show motorists their current speeds, features that are already present at Joan Austin Elementary School. The signs will be solar-powered.

“It’s a big deal for us,” city engineer Kaaren Hofmann said. “Traffic and pedestrian safety is always a big deal in front of schools.”

In addition to the signs there will be the addition of 48 bike racks and a large continuous shelter area on the school grounds.

The project’s history goes back to 2010, when Mabel Rush and the city of Newberg completed a Safe Routes to School (SRTS) action plan that was submitted to the Oregon Department of Transportation. The plan was approved and the city applied for an SRTS grant that would require no local match. ODOT approved that grant, but later notified the city that the funding for the SRTS program was depleted and that the Mabel Rush project would be placed on a prioritized reserve list for future work.

In 2012, a federal transportation bill, “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century,” gave renewed funding to the ODOT grant program, although the SRTS program now requires a local match of slightly above 10 percent.

The total cost for the improvements has been calculated at $401,000, which includes design work by a consultant, construction by Brown Contracting Inc. and project management by ODOT staff. The city of Newberg is contributing $36,000 and the Newberg School District is giving $5,000 to make up the local match.

Work on the project is scheduled to begin when school is dismissed for the summer.

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