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Sidewalk to improve safety for school children

Feb 28, 2017 08:53AM ● Published by Travis Barton

Students leaving the nearby West Lake Jr. High hold up traffic walking down the middle of the road. A sidewalk is expected to be built during the summer. (Travis Barton/City Journals)

Gallery: Sidewalk to improve safety for school children [3 Images] Click any image to expand.

By Travis Barton | travis@mycityjournals.com
 
West Valley City (WVC) held an open house at city hall on Thursday, Feb. 9 regarding the Tess Avenue Sidewalk Project. The planned project intends to build a sidewalk along Tess Avenue around 3250 West that connects to Hillsdale Elementary School.
 
In 2015, the legislature provided $200,000 to build a sidewalk on Tess Avenue. Currently, the area has no sidewalk leaving kids walking to and from Hillsdale Elementary to trudge either in the street, gutter or residents’ yards.
 
“The kids right now walk in the middle of the street willy nilly so we’re going to hopefully redirect them onto the sidewalk,” said Roger Rappleye, the WVC design engineer who is designing the project.
 
Students from nearby West Lake Jr. High School also walk along the road to and from school, often down the middle of the street.
 
“Kids are walking in the gutter, on the asphalt, they’re right next to the traffic… I would love to see the kids off the street. I’m super excited about it,” said nearby resident Kevin Barr, whose son goes to Hillsdale and will most likely walk to West Lake along Tess Avenue.  
 
Barr said he was pushing for a sidewalk back when around five years ago, Granite School District built a back entrance into Hillsdale Elementary from Lee Ann Street where parents could pick up and drop off their kids in the morning.
 
“It’s gotten the traffic off of 3100 South,” said city engineer Dan Johnson. “And I think it’s helped quite a bit in my opinion, but with that, all the kids now walk out through the street. It’s an older subdivision with no sidewalks so we got some money from the legislature to put in some sidewalk.”
 
Johnson said the subdivision located there was built in the 60s with no sidewalk. Ten feet beyond the curb and gutter was reserved as a public right of way. With that, Johnson explained, they’re not buying the property but putting a sidewalk on the public right of way.
 
“We’re getting temporary construction easements to come back onto their properties to make tie-ins and make the landscaping match and the driveways slope to not have crazy transitions,” Johnson said.
 
Residents who will be affected by the sidewalk construction were invited to attend the open house to voice comments and concerns. If they were satisfied, they would sign the notarized temporary easement agreement which gives permission to work on their property.
 
Residents have voiced their pleasure about project. One neighbor is typically upset with kids who cut across his yard.
 
Some residents have well-kept shrubs, a concrete fence or a rock garden that will be affected by the construction. Barr said it will have a huge impact on the landscaping of some properties.
 
“That’s where the landscaping issues are and I just wanted to make sure in this meeting… that in the contract, there’s sufficient money to make sure that the landscaping is taken care of,” Barr said.
 
He added that the city engineers assured him there would be money in the budget to push the rock garden back into his neighbor’s property.
 
“All of these (landscaping) things just add character to the neighborhood. It’s an older neighborhood, these houses are kind of nice and individual,” Barr said.
 
While the project hasn’t yet been bid upon, the couple-month project is expected to begin and end during the summer.
 
Katherine Wing serves as the crossing guard across Tess Avenue, and her son also attends Hillsdale. She said traffic can become quite congested in the area, voicing her displeasure about how the back entrance was made. But she said she is excited for the sidewalk “to make kids safe, to make it more calm.” 
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