The town of Bethel, CT, has built its three elementary schools, one middle school and one high school within the same educational complex. The Connecticut Department of Transportation awarded the town of Bethel with $250,000 in Safe Routes to School (SRTS) federal funds for infrastructure improvements, such as sidewalk installations, to increase the children’s safety when walking to school and to downtown Bethel.
Many of the sidewalks in Bethel have gaps, are overgrown with weeds or are too narrow and must be walked upon in single file. With the SRTS funds, the town will install one-mile of continuous sidewalk to link the schools to the surrounding community. Other infrastructure improvements will increase the visibility on a blind curve and repaint some of the crosswalks within the educational park.
Bethel Middle School and Bethel High School principals, teachers and students worked together to identify sidewalk problems by conducting walkability surveys. Each school group chose a different school route and walked from the school to the downtown area, noting any unsafe sidewalk areas in need of infrastructure improvements and crosswalks in need of repainting.
The walkabilitiy survey revealed many necessary infrastructure improvements, and the group took its results to the Safe Schools Committee, which is comprised of parents, teachers, the town engineer and a grant writer.
The schools do not have any encouragement or education activities in place yet, but they plan on creating these activities once the infrastructure improvements occur, and the children’s safety is ensured. One potential activity is Walk to School Day.
All of the infrastructure projects are slated to begin in spring 2008 and to be completed in time for the summer. Once the infrastructure improvements are in place, the schools will begin to create and implement encouragement and education activities as part of the school curriculum.
Assistant Principal Bethel Middle School
Phone: (203) 794-8662