Carnes Road is the only access road to Roseburg’s Green Elementary for school buses and vehicles. High traffic volumes, fast speeds, undefined intersection crossings and continuous driveway access – made worse by a lack of facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians – have long been safety concerns for students walking and biking to and from school. As of mid-September, those worries are gone.
Douglas County and its partners recently completed improvements in the area that include protected bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides of the busy street; marked crosswalks; a median refuge island with rapid flashing beacons; updated signage and more.
“The dramatic difference these improvements have made in such a high traffic corridor is just remarkable,” Douglas County Commissioner Tom Kress said when the project completion was announced. “In addition to our partners that collaborated on the grant and our project contractors, we would also like to thank our local residents for their cooperation, patience and understanding during construction.”
Oregon’s Safe Routes to School, part of the historic 2017 transportation funding package “Keep Oregon Moving,” helped make this long-planned project a reality. Administered by the Oregon Department of Transportation, the Safe Routes grant provided $2 million of the project’s $4.2 million total cost. Both Green Sanitary and Roberts Creek Water Districts contributed $200,000 each for their portion of the project, and the remainder was funded with Douglas County Road Funds. The program’s broad reach helps ODOT move closer to reaching outcomes in the 2021-2023 Strategic Action Plan, including reducing our carbon footprint and improving access to active transportation.
“With these improvements, the response from the school patrons and local community has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Douglas County Public Information Officer Tamara Howell.
Walking and rolling safely around Roseburg
The work just finishing up around Green Elementary meant that this year, the school couldn’t make a big splash with International Walk and Roll to School Day in October. But other schools in Roseburg did.
“We were able to hold our first in-person Walk and Roll to School events since the pandemic started, at two elementary schools in Roseburg: Sunnyslope and Fullerton IV Elementary,” said Janelle Newton, Safe Routes to School facilitator at Douglas Education Service District. “We had over 500 kids walking and rolling to school.”
At both schools, students were encouraged to walk or roll to school if possible, and for kids who ride the bus or whose parents drive them, they were dropped off at a designated location several blocks from the school. The youngsters were greeted by staff members at the drop-off location, who then took turns walking with them to campus.
“Prizes were given out in advance to teachers, so when kids arrived in their classroom they all received small prizes. In addition, we raffled off a scooter and a brand new bike for two lucky winners at the school,” Newton said. “It was a fun day and it was great to see so many kids walking and rolling together.”
Next year, Green Elementary students will be able to join the effort. In the meantime, they – and their parents – are enjoying their new sidewalks and increased visibility. The project also included enhancements to striping and school warning signs to better alert motorists driving through the school zone.
“The initiative is already paying off, and parents and students feel much safer in our school zone,” said Green Elementary Principal Lisa Dickover. “It has been so wonderful to see entire families biking together to school using the new bike lanes.”