Port Authority working on Safe Routes to School program

The Pondera Regional Port Authority (PRPA) is working with the Conrad School District and the City of Conrad on a Safe Routes to School Program.

The application is being made through the Montana Department of Transportation and is grant funded.  The Safe Routes to School Program (SRTS) is an opportunity to give children, including those with disabilities, a chance to walk and bike to school.

The program is designed to make walking and bicycling to school safe and more accessible for children.  SRTS is geared toward enhancing children’s health and well-being, and easing traffic congestion near the schools. 

Together, the PRPA, school district, and Conrad are currently in their first year of the SRTS Program and have had great success and enthusiasm so far.  This year, they have established a Walk and Wheel Wednesday promotion, where the kids walk or bike to school with their friends.  Those students that choose to participate in the program will receive incentives throughout the year.

At the beginning of this school year, the elementary school staff had a walking path orientation to show the kids the walking path that goes from Prairie View School along the football practice field and around the track field, with access locations on Iowa Street and Wisconsin Street. 

It is recommended that the children use this path when walking to and from school.  Walking path signs have been posted in the area for further encouragement. Parent surveys were available at the parent-teacher conferences for community input and the turnout was tremendous.

In addition, the city’s law enforcement is helping in the fight to keep kids safe by rewarding drivers that are seen driving safely and being cautious. 

Future plans for the program include sidewalk in-fills on routes between all four public schools, such as along 3rd Ave. and Wisconsin, and along 2nd Ave. from Michigan to Maryland. In addition to the sidewalks, the PRPA, school district, and Conrad will be working on getting handicap access ramps on the street corners around the schools, painted crosswalks, and flashing speed limit signs.

They will also be working on getting a crossing guard program up and running. If anyone is interested in volunteering, please contact the PRPA for further information.  Additionally, there will be focus on improving the safety for pedestrians in the bus loading zones. 

The PRPA, school district, and the city encourage public comments on the project and any project ideas or concerns. 

You can contact Cheryl Curry or Jessica Jensen at the PRPA office, located at 311 South Main, Ste. D in Conrad.  The office phone number is (406) 271-7237.

There will also be an opportunity to speak at the city council and school board meetings in December.