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Jackson Middle School crosswalk project seeks public feedback

A proposed crosswalk and sidewalk project on Route D and Broadridge Drive would improve safety for Jackson Middle School students. Submitted graphic

Southeast Metropolitan Planning Organization, the City of Jackson and the Jackson R-2 School District are working together to add new crosswalks and sidewalks near Jackson Middle School.

The proposed project, which is still in the planning stage, is currently seeking public feedback in order to submit the project for grant funding. A community meeting about the project was held in the JMS gymnasium on Feb. 6.

The project includes new crosswalks across Route D/Independence Street and across Broadridge Drive. New sidewalks would also be added on the north side of Route D between Broadridge Drive and Tanglewood Road.

“It is essentially about the safety of students,” JMS Principal Michael Martin said. “We have a lot of houses that are directly across from our building, and many of our students cross there. We have a lot of traffic up and down Route D.”

Around 15% of the middle school’s students walk to school every day, with many of them crossing Route D without a crosswalk.

Sixth grade teacher Wendy McBride said she accompanies students walking home after school ends, but students have to wait up to five minutes to cross safely.

“I have to wait till traffic either stops or there’s no cars,” McBride said, adding that there have been a few instances where oncoming traffic started approaching while students were still in the street.

McBride said students cross Route D in the morning without any school supervision. “It’s just as busy in the morning as it is in the afternoon,” she said. “That puts my students in danger, so it makes me nervous.”

If the crosswalks are added, school staff members like McBride would serve as crossing guards and be able to stop traffic for students to cross before and after school.

“As a school district, we are only allowed to take students out to the sidewalk,” Assistant Principal Tyler Abernathy said. “We are not actually allowed to stop traffic or anything on Route D to allow those students to cross.”

The plan includes a crosswalk across Route D between Primrose Lane and Briar-wood Street, as well as across Broadridge Drive near Lewis Drive. The crosswalks would feature high-visibility signs and flashers to alert drivers that someone is crossing the road.

Additional crosswalks would be placed along Broadridge Drive across Lewis Drive and across the middle school driveway.

“Our number one priority is safety,” Martin said. “We want to make sure when a child gets to our school and by the time they leave, they are safe – that’s what this is about.”

SEMPO Executive Director Alex McElroy said the project began due to SEMPO’s pilot program this fiscal year to do two intersection studies. The organization did a study of the intersection of County Road 621 and Perryville Road in Cape Girardeau and a corridor study along Route D in Jackson.

“Route D was an intersection we heard a lot about from school administrators,” McElroy said. “When we asked officials from Jackson who are voting members on our board, they quickly said they would like to take a look at Route D/Independence Street.”

CBB Transportation Engineers and Planners won a competitive selection process to complete the study and create conceptual designs for the proposed project. As part of their work, CBB did several site visits, met with school officials, calculated traffic counts and researched crash incidents.

“We’re hoping to get a final report on this specific study around late March,” McElroy said. “It’s a pretty quick turn around for this one, but we wanted to get done quicker because of grant opportunities. It being adjacent to a school makes it a great candidate for being competitive for a grant program.”

One of the major grant opportunities for the project is the Missouri Department of Transportation’s Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), which is expected to be open for grant applications this spring.

“The City of Jackson is going to be able to pursue a TAP grant, which would help us out immensely,” Assistant Superintendent Keenan Kinder said. “Working with the city and SEMPO puts us in a good position to be able to get this crosswalk for our kids.”

McElroy said information about the proposed project and the ability for the public to submit feedback is currently available at jmscrosswalksidewalkplan.com.

“It would make it a lot stronger to know there’s a lot of public feedback and support for these enhancements,” McElroy said. “This is the first step that needs to happen in order to be competitive in any grant application and in the local public’s eyes to show the need for the project.”

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjedit@socket.net.

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