The goal of Conroe’s Safe Schools Access program is to help children at Washington Junior High School, Cryar Intermediate School and Armstrong, Giesinger, Reaves, Runyan and Rice elementary schools walk to and from school safely, said Tommy Woolley, Conroe assistant director of projects and transportation. Since 2011 Conroe ISD buses only pick up students living outside a 1-mile drive of their schools, many neighborhood students walk instead.
He said the program falls in line with a larger effort by the city to build sidewalks throughout the community to help address traffic congestion.
“Keeping pedestrians out of the streets not only improves safety but also mobility and traffic congestion in high pedestrian areas,” Woolley said.
The estimated $1.5 million project is funded through a partnership with the city, Houston-Galveston Area Council and CISD. The H-GAC, which is the metropolitan planning organization for the area, helped Conroe apply for the $1.136 million of federal and state funds to be used in the improvements, Woolley said. The city is contributing $248,000 to the project, and CISD is contributing $338,000.
CISD spokesperson Sarah Blakelock said she believes the project will benefit the city as a whole.
“Sidewalks provide students, families and the community a designated, safe walking path, and the grants helped offset costs,” she said.
Woolley said the city has completed approximately 95 percent of the design phase. Construction is expected to start in August or September but move quickly because there will be no disruption to traffic involved. The project will provide 20,600 linear feet of new sidewalks to the area.
He said parents should give children who walk to school proper safety tips once the sidewalks are completed and ready for use.
“Sometimes, it’s a good thing for the parents to make sure kids know [to] cross at a crosswalk,” he said. “Don’t cross midstream of the road. Stay on the sidewalks—you need to be safe and be smart.”