Central Valley Road targeted for safety improvements

The Central Kitsap School District has applied for a piece of a state grant to address safety concerns on Central Valley Road.

The state’s Department of Education and Department of Transportation have $1 million available in grants to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety, said Dirk Gleysteen, district director of operations.

The main guideline to apply for the funds is a school district has to be the lead agency asking for the money, Gleysteen said. Other school districts in the county, including North Kitsap and Bremerton, also have applied for funds which will be awarded next month.

In the proposal, which the district has named Safe Routes to School, Gleysteen outlines the problem: Central Valley Road has five school crossings within one mile; the road is currently controlled by traffic lights. While the speed limit in that mile is posted as 35 mph and 20 mph within school crossings, few drivers pay attention.

According to studies by the Kitsap County Public Works Department, traffic counts on the road between Fairgrounds Road and Bridle Ridge Boulevard average about 321,000 vehicle a month.

A total of 1,575 elementary and junior high school students (ages 5-14) attend the three schools located either on or near Central Valley Road — Cottonwood Elementary School, Fairview Junior High School and Woodlands Elementary School. Of those students, about two-thirds don’t ride school busses.

Sheri Thomas, principal of Woodlands Elementary, wrote a letter on May 26 to the district outlining her concerns: the lack of sidewalks on the high-traffic road; the road’s narrow shoulders; that children walk side-by-side, rather than one behind the other which results in the children walking in the street; and cars do not drive the posted 20 mph speed limit.

Gleysteen is proposing a three-pronged process to address the problem: part education, part speed enforcement and part engineering changes.

The education includes International Walk to School Week activities for all 14 elementary schools at a cost of $1,000 per school and 5,000 safe walking guides for families at a cost of $1 per guide. Speed enforcement will be handled by the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office.

The engineering changes proposed are to install pedestrian-activated crosswalk signs at Holland and Central Valley roads, Woodlands Elementary and two at Fairview Junior High; to upgrade the crosswalk at Foster Road; to install flashing lights at each of the three schools ($20,000 each); and advance flashing lights at each of the three school zones at $10,000 each.

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