Published May 20th, 2015
City Doubles Down on Pathway Enhancements Near Schools
By Cathy Tyson
Cars queue up along Happy Valley Road Photo Cathy Tyson
It was a sidewalk doubleheader for city engineer Matt Luttropp at a recent public information meeting: He first discussed upcoming improvements to a walkway on Happy Valley Road for school kids, then moved on to the Quandt Road pathway, which serves students at Springhill Elementary.
Both projects will bring new walkways, handicap ramps, curbs, gutters, and pedestrian crosswalk push buttons and striping on the city's right-of-way, which typically extends 10 feet or more beyond the curb or edge of the pavement. The combined $275,000 worth of improvements will be partially funded by Transportation Development Act grants for sidewalk safety and school access. While keeping kids safe and leveraging city funds are good things, traffic delays associated with the projects are inevitable as these two-lane roads morph into one-lane roads with the help of orange cones and flaggers directing traffic.
The Happy Valley Road work is especially tricky, since that street is more of an arterial to the neighborhood. A new 350-foot walkway separated from the roadway will be constructed along the north side of Happy Valley Road from Panorama Drive to Redwood Lane, which is basically right across the street from the elementary school, and is usually full of parked cars. In addition, construction should tentatively begin in September, to be completed in mid-November when school is in session.
Energetic principal at Happy Valley, Shayna Peeff, voiced her concern that the start time for construction crews - originally slated for 8:30 a.m. - is the same time that classes begin. Luttropp had no problem bumping the construction start time to 9 a.m. Crews will be working until 4:30 p.m. every weekday, well past the school's dismissal time. She, along with teachers, have made an effort to improve congestion at peak times to accommodate twice the volume of cars on school property to ease backups on Happy Valley Road. A rolling dismissal time to alleviate the afternoon crunch has recently been instituted; students have an almost 20 minute window of supervision when parents or guardians can pick up their kids.
The timing of both projects is not fantastic, but due to the restrictions of the grant funds, work must be completed by next summer. One resident suggested perhaps contractors could work during the Christmas season. Luttropp explained that weather is a concern, bids may come in higher than anticipated, and the construction might take longer than anticipated, lengthening the inconvenience for all.
Senior engineer Farzaneh Sanders will be in charge during the construction phase this fall and will post weekly updates on the city website on Fridays during the project's duration about the work scheduled for the following week. Residents have been advised that shrubs and trees "in conflict" with the pathway alignment will be removed; they have also been asked to let the city know if there is irrigation, lighting or drain lines within the public right-of-way to see about preservation, if possible.
Luttropp describes the residents at the Quandt Road meeting as "enthusiastic" and "happy." Improvements there will run about 450 feet from Pleasant Hill Road to Quandt Court. The westbound travel lane on Quandt Road will remain 10 feet wide, but the shoulder will be reduced to four feet. "Usually neighbors are excited to see the improvements," said Luttropp. "It's nice to give people something they've been wanting for a long while." While the bearded Luttropp has an official title of senior engineer, maybe it should be civic Santa?

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