Dozens of elementary school students in Bloomington will have a safe way to walk to school next year. A project that’s been in the works for many years is complete.
A new walking path near Benjamin Elementary School is ready to be used.
“I’ve used it a lot,” said Asher Nicolas.
“I actually go running on it, use my bike, my scooter. It’s fun and you can see a lot of wildlife out there,” added his brother Nathan.
Their friend Lucas Simon said, “I like to ride my bike when we play cops and robbers.”
Students who live in the subdivision near the school will have a safe walking route to get across Kickapoo Creek to the school. The neighborhoods back up to Ireland Grove Road, which has speed limits up to 45 miles per hour. Unit 5 School District has been bussing students, because the road wasn’t safe for kids.
“There weren’t any really good ways for kids to get to school,” explained Bloomington Public Works Director Jim Karch. “There were no sidewalks along Ireland Grove.”
Students who live within a mile and a half of the school will lose their free bussing option, according to state transportation requirements. But the path will keep kids off the roads.
“Students now, instead of walking along a very busy arterial Road, they can now take a regular constitution trail to be able to safely to get to school,” said Karch.
The project cost about $260,000, $160,000 of which came from the state’s Safe Routes to School grant.
“The school also contributed. They were wonderful partners in this. They contributed $25,000,” said Karch.
Parents we talked to are thrilled with the addition.
“My kids like to ride their bikes now they can go out on the path, and stay outside and explore,” said Joanna Nicolas.
Kristy Simon added, “It’s nice that it connects the two sides of the neighborhood. They have friends on the other side, and so it provides a safe path.”
There is still some work needed on the side of the trail. Some parents we talked to did say they’d like to see guardrails on the bridge that crosses the creek.
Right now, the path stands on its own. Karch says it could connect to Constitution Trail sometime in the future.