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Columbia County receives $2.8 million for pedestrian, bicycle improvements

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Pedestrians and students at St. Helens High School will have a safer place to walk in the coming years, after Columbia County’s Road Department received a $2.8 million competitive grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) for bicycle and pedestrian improvements from Highway 30 to Columbia Boulevard.
According to a press release from Columbia County, the grant will be used for sidewalks, bike lanes, improved roadway drainage and an asphalt overlay on the roadway.
The City of St. Helens, St. Helens School District and County Board of Commissioners were all instrumental to the success of this application. Management and project funding will be administered through a joint effort between the City and County Road staffs.
“The ODOT grant award represents a monumental endorsement for the importance of community safety projects in and around local schools in St. Helens,” said Tristan Wood, project manager and engineering project coordinator for the county. “Kids walking daily to and from the high school are often required to step into the traffic lane due to the lack of sidewalks. This safety issue made the ODOT grant application a high priority for city and county officials.”

The grant requires a 10.27 percent project match. The road department will provide dedicated bike path funds and the City of St. Helens will utilize funds collected from system development charges. The city will assist Columbia County in the selection process of a design consultant to manage construction of the project. The project will have minimal impact on adjacent landowners, but most importantly, will improve travel safety for students attending St. Helens High School as well as pedestrians and drivers in the adjoining neighborhoods.
This funding will be used as part of a three-phase plan to improve access to McBride Elementary and St. Helens High School.
The county expects to select a consultant this fall. Design work is expected to begin next spring and construction in 2018.

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