Safer Route to Springs School

    Students at Springs School are finally one step closer to securing a safer route to school.

    Earlier this week, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. announced that the New York State Department of Transportation had agreed to cover safety improvements planned around Springs School, with the goal of helping to promote safer and healthier alternatives of getting to school and making it safer for everyone to walk or bike in the area.

    In January, East Hampton Town received a $554,310 federal grant to cover the cost of the proposed project, which would allow for the construction of new sidewalks, pedestrian walkway lights, and speed-monitoring devices, among other improvements.

    An 1,800-foot sidewalk is planned for Springs-Fireplace Road, stretching from Woodbine Drive to the Gardiner Avenue and School Street intersection, where a crossing guard would be present in the mornings and afternoons. In addition to a pedestrian push-button warning system, devices will also be installed to show drivers how fast they are traveling.

    The funding, which comes from the National Safe Routes to School program, was established by Congress in 2005 with the goal of establishing alternatives to either riding the bus or being driven to school. Nationwide, more than 13,000 schools have already benefited. Each state administers the program. Here in New York, the State Department of Transportation reimburses each town for projects undertaken on behalf of local school districts.

    Though the funding is secured, the process is far from being complete. While the grant application is already a year in the making, Elizabeth Mendelman, who is the president of the Springs School Board and also chairs the school’s transportation and safety committee, estimates it will be two to three more years until the improvements are finished, provided there are no snags. 

    “Getting the federal funding was a great win for the community to address what we believe to be really critical areas for the safety of kids,” said Ms. Mendelman. “But make no mistake about it, it’s not a speedy process,” she said, citing federal and state transportation requirements.

    And going forward, East Hampton Town may have to pick up an additional $12,000 for the cost of moving utility poles, an outcome that remains uncertain until the pre-engineering phase has begun.