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Project near Holcomb Elementary is adjusted after ODOT denies funding for bike lanes, sidewalks, crosswalks

Oregon City officials are constructing a scaled-back version of their Safe Routes to Schools project after ODOT denied the city's application for about $1.3 million in state funding to construct sidewalks, bike lanes and crosswalks near Holcomb Elementary.

Oregon City's $322,000 Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons Project is instead installing pedestrian-activated, flashing-light crossings to help students walking and bicycling near Holcomb Elementary and Gardiner Middle School.COURTESY PHOTO: CITY OF OC - TriMet's Line 33 travels near Gardiner Middle School at the Linn Avenue and Williams Street intersection where Oregon City is installing a pedestrian-activated, flashing-light beacon.

You may experience intermittent delays on Holcomb Boulevard and Linn Avenue during this month and next month as electrical and concrete work begins to install the beacons. City officials said you can expect workers on the road between 7 a.m.-5 p.m. through October near the project at Linn Avenue and Williams Street, and traffic delays during November near the Holcomb Boulevard and Swan Avenue project.COURTESY PHOTO: CITY OF OC - Traffic delays are expected during November near the Holcomb Boulevard and Swan Avenue project to help walkers to Holcomb Elementary.

Oregon City School District and the Park Place Neighborhood Association worked with city officials on the ODOT Safe Routes application. They told ODOT officials that the Holcomb thoroughfare is unsafe for students to walk to school, even those who live within a one-mile radius. About 45% of Holcomb's 550 students are eligible for the state's free and reduced lunch program for low-income families.COURTESY MAP - Oregon City created this map showing its 2020 proposed areas for sidewalk, crosswalk and rapid flashing beacons construction near Holcomb Elementary School.

City officials said the scaled-down project will address a "large portion of the Park Place Neighborhood concerns" by bringing better lighting, ADA ramps and enhanced TriMet stops, in addition to the pedestrian beacons. Holcomb Boulevard, where speed limits were lowered in 2019 to a consistent 35 mph, has no traffic lights between Front Avenue and Kitty Hawk Avenue.

North Clackamas' Bilquist Elementary was the only Clackamas County project approved last year out of 99 Safe Routes to School applications to address barriers to students walking and biking.2018 PMG FILE PHOTO: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Simon Pakhnyuk (left) and Zachary Garner were the two Bilquist fifth-graders on 2018 crossing-guard duty at the elementary school in urban unincorporated Clackamas.

Although they have some added danger, kids walking or biking to school score major health benefits and have much lower rates of diabetes, studies show. Over the past 20 years, the rate of children 19 and under who have been killed while walking has decreased. But recent years have seen a 13% increase in the death rate for 12-19 year olds.2018 PMG FILE PHOTO: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Richard Large, custodian and crossing-guard program manager at Bilquist Elementary School, keeps an eye on the Webster Road crossing in 2018.

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