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Council approves ‘Healthy Ways to School’ project

The City Council approved the two-year-old “Healthy Ways to School” project between Lakeridge Elementary, the Mercer Island School District and the city on Feb. 1. The project, which has been in the works since 2008, aims to facilitate walking and biking to the school with wider sidewalks, painted crosswalks and electronic “radar feedback speed limit signs.” Project funding comes from Washington state’s Safe Routes to School grant program.

In 2008, the City Council approved a new “Safe Routes to School” program within the city’s six-year Transportation

Improvement Plan, funded at $100,000 per biennium beginning in 2009. In December 2008, staff received preliminary notification from WSDOT that the Lakeridge Elementary project would receive $220,000 in grant funds. The funds were awarded in June 2009.

The project was first presented to the Council in May 2009, when staff sought authorization to advertise for construction bids. The Council directed staff to revise the project’s design to fit within a budget limitation of $360,000 ($100,000 from the city’s Safe Routes to School program, $220,000 from the WSDOT Safe Routes to School grant, and $40,000 from the city’s 2009 Neighborhood Drainage Improvement program). In July, the Council awarded a construction contract in the amount of $228,614 to Construct Company, LLC, and set the project’s budget at $359,260.

To date, the city has received $215,000 of grant fund reimbursement from WSDOT for the project’s first phase: engineering and enforcement. The remaining $5,000 of grant funding is for the education and encouragement phases. It will be reimbursed to the city over the next year, as additional programs at Lakeridge occur. The City Council authorized staff to close out the project at last week’s Council meeting. The Reporter will revisit the “Healthy Ways to School” project in an upcoming story.

City continues recycling grant

Every two years, the King County Solid Waste Division enters into new interlocal agreements for grants that help fund recycling events in suburban cities. Last week, the City Council approved an agreement to continue funding two events — the Island’s annual household and electronic collection days in the spring and the fall — each year in 2010 and 2011. Mercer Island has participated in this Waste Reduction and Recycling (WRR) grant program since its inception in 1990. The WRR grant, along with another grant through the Local Hazardous Waste Management Program, provides the full funding for the Island’s recycling events each year.

In 2009, a total of 1,952 vehicles brought in 123 tons of 15 different kinds of hard-to-recycle items. Similar communitywide recycling collections will take place this year.

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