Darlington County school receives grant to improve students’ routes home

Darlington County school receives grant to improve students’ routes home

DARLINGTON COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - A $400,000 grant awarded to Hartsville's Carolina Elementary School will go toward the installation of brand new sidewalks, crosswalks and pedestrian signage.

This Safe Routes to School Infrastructure Grant from the South Carolina Department of Transportation will help fix the issues students currently face by having to walk on the side of the roads.

Carolina Elementary is one of 10 schools in S.C. selected for the funding. The effort is a collaboration between the school, the city of Hartsville and the SCDOT to give students a safer way to walk to and from school.

Donna Barrett, principal at Carolina Elementary, said there are 240 students at the school now. Of that number, 35 kids who walk across Carolina Avenue, while 18 walk down part of Marlboro Avenue.

Barrett wants those numbers to increase, but only if there's a safe way to do it.

"The flow of traffic will be smoother and there won't be as much congestion or opportunity for wrecks to happen on the way to and from school," she said

Mary Catherine Farrell, assistant to the Hartsville City Manger, helped submit the grant for the school.

"They were already doing several initiatives already, like a walk to school day, so all of those helped make our application more competitive," said Farrell. "They helped mobilize parent support, we got letters and signatures of support from parents here and put together an application, and now we're funded. A well planned, well designed community is one where students are able to walk to their school. It lessens the load on our transportation infrastructure, and it's a few less students that have to ride the bus. So there's cost savings there."

For nearly 20 years, Barrett has served as principal and has wanted to see this happen. She believes adding the sidewalks will not only benefit Carolina Elementary, but the entire community.

"It will continue to add to the beauty to the community for just to go out and take a walk. It's a safe place to walk now and we won't have to worry," said Barrett.

Rodney Oldham, coordinator for The SCDOT's Safe Routes to School Program, said these projects typically run two years from the approval of the grant to completion. The school anticipates a design draft of construction to begin within the next 6 months.

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