Safer routes ahead

Work begins Tuesday on the school crossing on East Court Street outside King Middle School. The $280,000 project, funded mostly by a $200,000 Safe Routes to School grant awarded to the city by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in August 2019, should be completed by the end of the year.

KANKAKEE — The city broke ground Tuesday on a project to create a safer school crossing on East Court Street outside King Middle School.

Mayor Chastity Wells-Armstrong updated the Kankakee School Board Tuesday on the status of the $280,000 project, funded primarily through the Safe Routes to School state grant.

She said the majority of the project should be completed by the end of the year.

The only feature that won’t be done by then are the mast arms, which take about 16 weeks to install, she said.

The project will include a concrete median, widened crosswalks, sidewalk improvements and flashing traffic signals alerting motorists to children being in the roadway before and after school.

Currently, the only warning to motorists are school crossing guards carrying signs and a portable sign alerting motorists to be cautious.

“I’m really excited about this project,” Wells-Armstrong said. “It’s one of my favorite projects I’ve had being the mayor because it started with a fourth-grader who wrote me a letter. His teacher challenged the students to contact a community leader about an issue where they had concerns or that they wanted to advocate for.”

The project came about after former King student Ty Alderson, a fourth-grader at the time, wrote Wells-Armstrong a letter alerting the city of the issue.

Wells-Armstrong then pushed to have the situation addressed and funding was later awarded by the state.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker honored Alderson in August 2019 as he visited King Middle School and presented the city with a $200,000 Safer Routes to School grant and announced $5.5 million in grants for similar projects across the state.

Reporter

Stephanie Markham joined the Daily Journal in February 2020 as the education reporter. She focuses on school boards as well as happenings and trends in local schools.

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