Grant will result in new sidewalks, crosswalks near schools

Children going to school on the north end of Princeton will have a safer route to school in 2014.
Thanks to a $300,000 grant from the Minnesota Department of Transportation, new sidewalks will be installed in the area of North Elementary School and Princeton Middle School.
The city of Princeton, the Princeton School District and Mille Lacs County teamed together in applying for the grant. Princeton Community Development Director Carie Fuhrman learned last Tuesday that the project funding was approved. She shared the news with the Princeton City Council at its Thursday, May 9, meeting.
MnDOT received grant requests valued at $15 million. Princeton’s project made the list of $3.8 million in projects that were funded, Fuhrman said. A second grant aimed at educating and encouraging students to take safe routes to school was not approved by MnDOT, she said.
Specifically, the grant will allow for the installation of sidewalks and crosswalks along Fifth Avenue North and a portion of 12th Street North. Actual work on the project will begin in 2014 because there is engineering work that needs to be completed before ground is broken on the project, Fuhrman said. An open house for adjoining property owners will be held at a later date so they can learn about the project further and have any questions answered.
“This will help ensure safe routes for students to walk and bicycle to school, along with safe routes for community residents in general,” Fuhrman told City Council members.
Councilman Dick Dobson said the news of the grant is one of the reasons he likes serving on the council.
“I’m all for public safety and making Princeton a safer place,” he said.
Furhman was impressed by the collaboration that helped bring the project together. Not only did city, school and county staff work together to make the project a reality, but 25 letters of support from the community were submitted with the grant application, she said.
Mao Yang, a project development engineer with MnDOT, said in a letter to the city that the grant process was very competitive and included 62 very good proposals from all over Minnesota.
“Your application demonstrated a comprehensive planning with community support that has great potential to increase the number of students walking and bicycling to and from school,” Yang said.