The City of National City is ready to unveil much anticipated improvements along Coolidge Avenue and W. 18th Street near Kimball School. This unveiling is a culmination of years of hard work and collaboration between the City, the National School District, Kimball School and residents of the Old Town (Westside) Neighborhood to identify opportunities to enhance safety and access for students walking to school. These two streets were identified as “Community Corridors” as part of development and implementation of the National City’s Westside Specific Plan (2010) and General Plan Update (2011). These documents identify Community Corridors as “complete streets,” with the purpose of calming traffic, enhancing safety and access for pedestrians and bicyclists, and improving walkability and quality of life through functional and attractive streetscaping.
Completion of the project will be celebrated this Thursday, August 14th through a series of activities beginning at 7:45am at Big B’s Market & Deli (1540 Coolidge Ave, National City, CA 91950). Students, parents, school staff, and community members will meet at Big B’s to enjoy healthy snacks, a yoga session and fun prizes. At 8:00 a.m., participants will take a symbolic walk down Coolidge Avenue from Big B’s Market to Kimball Elementary School. A formal ribbon cutting ceremony with guest speakers will be held at the new plaza area in front of the school following the walk.
The $1.8 million project, funded through a $730,000 Federal Safe Routes to School Grant (Coolidge Avenue), portions of a $2 million SANDAG Smart Growth Incentive Program Grant (to establish pedestrian and bicycle connections between Downtown and Westside National City), and local TransNet and Gas Tax funds, will deliver much needed pedestrian and bicycle enhancements between Kimball School and the surrounding residential neighborhood. Improvements include new, wider sidewalks, corner bulbouts to calm traffic and shorten pedestrian crossing distances, new pedestrian curb ramps to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, enhanced school zone signing and striping, new lighting and landscaping. The project also provides over half a mile of new bike lanes along 18th Street between Wilson Avenue and “D” Avenue, and a new plaza area with benches, bike racks and raised crosswalk in front of Kimball School.
Walk to School events emphasize the importance of increasing physical activity among children, enhancing pedestrian safety, alleviating traffic congestion, supporting a healthy environment, and strengthening connections between families, schools and the broader community.
“As an older, dense and metropolitan community, it is imperative to have our community as walkable and our routes to our schools as safe and convenient as possible,” said Mayor Ron Morrison. “This is just one more example of our community rising to the task.”
While capital improvements for the project were funded through a series of competitive grants, National City was successful in securing a $500,000 Federal Safe Routes to School Grant to provide a variety of walk to school activities for ten local elementary schools and the surrounding neighborhoods. National City partnered with Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego and the National City Police Department to implement the program over a four-year period, which kicked off in Fall 2012.
“National City’s Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Program has really taken off over the past five-to-seven years, with over $3.5 million in “competitive” State and Federal SRTS grants plus an additional $2.5 million in other active transportation grants for improvements around our local schools,” said Steve Manganiello, Director of Public Works/City Engineer. “Traffic is slowing down, more students are walking, and more and more parents are volunteering their time to serve as Parent Safety Patrols. Events like our upcoming Coolidge Avenue SRTS celebration provide excellent opportunities for the Community to participate in the Program. We are very excited.”
National City’s Coolidge Avenue Walk to School Event and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony is a collaborative effort with the community. Under the City’s SRTS Program, Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego and the National City Police Department have taken the lead in organizing the event with the support of National City’s Mayor and City Council, City Manager Leslie Deese and staff, National School District, Principal Sonia Ruan and staff from Kimball Elementary School, parent volunteers, Big B’s Market & Deli, UCSD School of Medicine, Environmental Health Coalition, Live Well San Diego and other community partners.