City and district grants collaborate for safer school routes in Lompoc
Education and construction will be working together over the next three years to make Lompoc school routes safer for students through grants from the California Department of Transportation. The Lompoc Unified School District and the city of Lompoc applied for separate grants through the CalTrans Safe Routes to School program. The district was awarded $411,000 to implement a program that focuses on safety, health, community development, and encouraging active transportation options, while the city was awarded $442,000 to construct sidewalks and curb ramps along school routes. Ashley Costa, community health director for the Lompoc Valley Community Healthcare Organization (LVCHO), said the district is taking the lead on a program that LVHCO helped start. The organization is coming to the end of a three-year CalTrans grant it received to work with the district in developing a Safe Routes to School program. Costa said the district applied for the most recent grant because it wanted the program to become a more engrained part of the district, and LVHCO will continue to help out. The grant is utilized to fund events such as bike-to-school-month and walk-to-school-month and educate kids about how to be safe when going to and from school. “Part of the funding mechanism is also for infrastructure,” Costa said. “It really is a partnership.” That’s where the city’s grant comes in. Alex Ubaldo, a civil engineering associate with the city of Lompoc, said the grant would be used to fix streets that students often use to get to school. Many of those streets don’t have sidewalks. “We see that as something really dangerous,” Ubaldo said. “Especially on busy streets.” Walnut and Chestnut avenues between C Street and G Street are getting an upgrade, which should help make the commute safer for students en route to Lompoc High School, Lompoc Valley Middle School, and Arthur Hapgood Elementary School.