Bike, foot access to Riverview School a concern
Parents of students at the new Riverview School south of Glenwood Springs were surprised to learn when classes started last week that the time-honored tradition of biking to school was being discouraged.
Roaring Fork Schools officials and administrators at the new preK-8 school located off Garfield County Road 154 are asking students not to walk or ride bikes to the school, because there is not currently a safe route to follow.
If students do bike or walk, they are to be accompanied by an adult. And they have to wait after school lets out until bus and other vehicle traffic clears from the main access road before they can leave.
In planning the school, district officials said, the decision was made not to build a dedicated bike/foot path along Flying M Ranch Road until there’s a connecting path along 154 Road back toward the nearby Ironbridge and Westbank neighborhoods.
Officials also want to see an eventual connection to the Rio Grande Trail, which would make biking to and from other parts of the Riverview attendance area more feasible.
The district is working with a local land-use planner, as well as county officials and neighboring property owners, to come up with a reasonable long-term solution.
It’s also working with the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, managers of the Rio Grande, to build a connecting path to the north of the school. But other short-term solutions are not likely.
“It is clear that there is interest in bike and pedestrian routes that provide connectivity between area neighborhoods … and Riverview School,” according to a statement posted on the district and school websites.
“Successfully extending trail connections to neighborhoods in this area will require the cooperation of many parties, including local landowners,” it said.
Doing so will require working with the county, which has jurisdiction over the roads leading to the school, and with RFTA and the Colorado Department of Transportation, Jeff Gatlin, chief operating officer for the district, advised the school board at a Wednesday night meeting.
Funding for some of the long-term options also has not been secured, and will likely require partnering with other entities and going after grant funding to accomplish, he said.
The district has been working with Doug Pratte of The Land Studio to look at possible routes for future bike paths coming from both the north and south into the new school.
What’s essentially a feasibility study at this point envisions 12 possible solutions, Pratte said during the Wednesday meeting. Those range from dedicated paths along the county road or along the east bank of the Roaring Fork River, or even refurbishing the old bridge at the intersection of 154 and 109 roads to use as a dedicated pedestrian bridge.
The school district has already been in discussion with RFTA and CDOT about building a “flyover” interchange at Colorado 82 and 154 Road that would eliminate a dangerous trail crossing on the Rio Grande and do away with the private driveways at the nearby Orrison Distributing facility. But that solution also is likely several years off and lacking any funding support.
Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky, who lives in the nearby Westbank subdivision, said the county is a likely player in whatever access solutions come about.
“It’s something we’re all going to have to work on together, and put our heads together to come up with a solution,” he said.
Some parents plan to approach the county commissioners next week to ask that the stretch of 154 Road near the school be dedicated as an official school zone with a reduced speed limit during school times when children are present.
That may not go over with residents in the area who already don’t follow the posted 25 mph limit, Jankovsky said.
He said the recent road work included a striped four-foot shoulder for bikes and pedestrians, but that it ended up being painted on the wrong side of the road to adequately serve the school.
“The immediate answer is to get as much usable shoulder on the road as possible, and make the traveling public aware that there are children present,” Jankovsky said.
Once a reasonable long-term path solution is agreed on, the county could also apply for a state Safe Routes to Schools grants to help pay for any improvements, he said.
School board members also want to see the problem solved as soon as possible.
“This is a priority for the district, and it was a huge disappointment to folks to be told they couldn’t ride bikes to school,” board President Mary Elizabeth Geiger said.
With the current traffic snarls in Glenwood Springs due to the Grand Avenue bridge closure and detour, some Riverview parents have also been asking for after-school transportation options for students coming into town for sports and other activities.
However, they have been advised that a dedicated activities bus coming into Glenwood after school is not in the district’s transportation plans.