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  • Sun October 22 2006
  • Posted Oct 22, 2006
City will know by February if it gets grant By CHRISTINA SMITH REGISTER STAFF WRITER October 20, 2006 Students in the Waukee school district could have a safer route to school if Waukee is granted money to help build a multipurpose trail. Waukee officials have applied for a 2006 Safe Routes to School Iowa grant through the Iowa Department of Transportation. The city is requesting $300,000 to help pay for the $750,000 project known as the Raccoon River Valley trail extension. Waukee officials should know by February if they will receive the money. The Safe Routes to School Iowa program was created to promote physical activities for area youths such as riding bikes and walking. The proposed 10-foot-wide trail runs along Ashworth Drive, where Union Pacific Railroad tracks once were, from U.S. Highway 6 to just east of Prairieview School, 655 S.E. University Ave. The entire length of the trail in Waukee will be about 2.25 miles, city officials said. Officials must still purchase right of way for the project. Brad Deets, director of planning for Waukee, said the trail would connect Waukee Ele- mentary School, 400 Locust St.; Waukee Middle School, 905 Warrior Lane; Waukee High School, 555 S.E. University Ave., and Prairieview. The schools are located within about a half-mile radius of each other. Deets said the Waukee trail is part of a broader trail project within Dallas County. The Raccoon River Valley Trail runs along Hickman Road beginning in Clive and extends 56 miles to Jefferson. To pay for the remaining part of the Waukee project, Deets said, the city is seeking other state grants. Also, city money will be budgeted for the project. Deets said if the city receives the money, construction of the trail could begin next summer and be completed in time for the start of the 2007-08 school year. The school district estimates about 500 students either walk or bike to one of the schools that would be connected by the trail. If the city is granted the money, the school district would incorporate more physical education material into curriculum, said Duane Van Gorp, the Waukee school district's executive director of administrative services. The elementary school already offers a unit on bicycle safety. Van Gorp said the proposed trail would offer a safer school route for students than the sidewalks they use. "The only separation between our schools and the housing is a right of way," Van Gorp said of the area just north of the middle school. "In the long run, it certainly would provide a safer route for kids." Deets said he thought Waukee's application would meet the criteria for the program. "We felt that between the city and the school, this was the ideal project based on the fact of the number of schools in this vicinity, and it will connect with other trails," Deets said. "This creates a nice central trail system through the city and then connects up with some of the other trail systems."

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