Just last month, Georgia Department of Transportation officials conducted a field plan review for the work expected to be done in downtown Bremen as part of the Safe Routes to School program.
The project, which is funded 100 percent by a federal grant, will install or update sidewalks near H.A. Jones Elementary School to provide a safe way for children to walk or bike to school.
According to the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) website, “[the program] is an international movement that began in the 1970s in Denmark and spread throughout the world, reaching the United States by the 1990s. In 2005, the federal government created a national SRTS program (SAFETEA-LU) designed to enable and encourage school-aged children K-8 grades to walk/bike to school, including those with disabilities, and to make walking and biking to school safe and more appealing.”
The local project in Bremen will focus on sidewalk installation and repair on Business 1, Fern Street, Bryan Street, Bush Street and Lakeview Drive.
“We did the Field Plan Review three weeks ago,” said local GDOT Project Manager Karen Higgins. “We reviewed the plan and walked the route and requested only a few changes.”
According to Higgins, the project will be bid out in June and work would begin 60 to 90 days after the contract is awarded in early July.
“Hopefully, we can get this done in nine months,” she said.
Getting the project going has been a collaborative effort between the city of Bremen, Bremen City Schools, and the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission, according to Bremen City Manager Perry Hicks.
“We hear constant complaints about the traffic in that area because rather than busses, we have a lot of cars [because parents are taking their children to school],” Perry Hicks said.
The city has already asked the Bremen Police Department to station an officer at the intersection of McPherson and Hamilton; however, Perry Hicks and Bremen City Schools Superintendent David Hicks hope the Safe Route project will help alleviate some of the traffic.
“We don’t have a bus system, and we don’t have many walkers,” said David Hicks, “so most of our kids are driven by their parents or drive themselves if they are in high school.”
An added bonus is the fact that once the project is complete and the DOT completes their current work on Highway 78 and Florida Avenue, a student could walk safely from the high school to the elementary school.
“I think it’s a great thing,” said David Hicks. “It’ll improve the aesthetics of our community. It will encourage walking. We all need exercise, and our children are no exception.”
Superintendent Hicks said there are many children who live within walking distance of their school, and he hopes several of them take advantage of the project.
“If they do want to walk, they will now have that opportunity,” he said.
The project is expected to get underway by September or August of 2013 and cost an estimated $640,000.