What a Difference a Curb Makes!

Announcing the new WSDOT-funded sidewalk at Concord Elementary.

What a difference a curb makes. 

Good news came to South Park last month, as the Seattle Department of Transportation completed two blocks of new sidewalk on S. Concord Street near Concord Elementary School. 

But as happy as we are for the sidewalk, which bridges a sizable gap in one of the walk routes to school, Feet First really wants to sing about the sidewalk’s lower-profile cousin:  the curb.

What a difference a curb makes!  This simple curb eliminates ambiguity about where to park and opens the sidewalk up for pedestrians.  Two years ago, at the start of a Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)-funded Safe Routes to School grant program at Concord Elementary School, Feet First lead a bi-lingual walking audit on this very route.   

At that time, the north side of the street was a grassy strip used mostly for residential parking.  The sidewalk that existed on the south side was often blocked by vehicles pulling up over the planting strip and parking across the sidewalk.   With cars in the walking space, any pedestrians venturing here were left to intermingle with moving traffic.  Muddy and hazardous, this was not the ideal place for children to walk to school.

Concord St before improvementsThe infrastructure improvement is a win-win for people walking and driving.  The placement of the curbs shortens the planting strip and widens the road, lessening concerns that parked cars would have their mirrors clipped by moving traffic.  The curb was installed in sections with gaps to allow water through and lessen muddiness in the planting strip.  With a curb to better define the edge of the roadway, the south sidewalk is open for business again….getting two sidewalks for the price of one!

Concord Elementary School is an example of what Safe Routes to School grants provided by Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) are intended to achieve: safe, easy, healthy ways for children to walk to school.  The call for proposals for the next round of WSDOT grants is now open.  What difference could one of those grants make for your school community?

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