WAKEFIELD — The Safe Routes to School work in the Dolbeare School area is ready for opening day.
According to DPW Director Richard Stinson yesterday, and to Dolbeare Walking School Bus Coodinator Sherri Carlson earlier this summer, the state fully funded nearly $450,000 worth of improvements to sidewalks (making them accessible to the handicapped, among other upgrades) and crosswalks, as well as installation of pedestrian walking lights and signage in the Dolbeare neighborhood. The state also picked up the cost of engineering involved in the planning process.
The town’s DPW, Stinson explained, paid about $25,000 to improve a section of sidewalk in the neighborhood.
Dolbeare students, like just about all others in town, head back to school tomorrow.
According to Carlson, the Safe Routes to Dolbeare School took six years from conception to completion. She wrote in July, “It began with the Walking School Bus program in fall 2008. A walking school bus is a group of children walking to school with one or more adults, following a fixed route and stopping to pick up students at set times along the way. It’s like a carpool — without the car.”
Carlson continued, “Every day brought a new experience the children never would have driving to school; perhaps small but nonetheless special. One day there was street construction to examine. Other days brought … a rooster crowing loudly or a neighbor’s giant fluffy dog. There were beautiful garden flowers to appreciate. Sometimes the children enjoyed rain on their umbrellas with puddles to jump in. Later in the season there was colorful foliage to admire along with piles of leaves to crunch. Most days friends and neighbors talked and laughed. Some days were more quiet and peaceful. Whatever the day brought, a walk was always a nice way to start the morning.”
The Dolbeare program expanded and began to get some important publicity and in 2010 the state Department of Transportation awarded the school (and the town) a no-cost, detailed infrastructure assessment of walking and bicycling routes within a mile of the school and placed the Dolbeare on a waiting list for construction.
Today, you can see the results.