Unincorporated Snohomish County schools get safety improvements

Crews have started installing sidewalks, crosswalks and warning beacons around a dozen schools in unincorporated Snohomish County.

Work began this week at Cedarwood Elementary on 35th Aveue SE, near Mill Creek. Other projects are scheduled in south Everett, Machias, Lakewood and Tulalip, among other areas.

“These are neighborhood projects around schools,” county public works director Steve Thomsen said. “Some of them are basic shoulder-widenings, where all that exists is a white line and either a ditch or brush or nothing. We’re trying to widen that out to create a pathway for kids to walk on.”

Other schools are getting marked crosswalks or flashing beacons on crossing signs. A radar-activated traffic sign will warn drivers near Quil Ceda Elementary if they’re going too fast.

The improvements stem from a pledge County Executive John Lovick made for the 2014 budget. Lovick calls the program Safe Kids, Improved Pathways, or SKIP for short.

It’s being funded with $550,000 generated by a 1 percent increase the portion of the property tax that pays for county road projects. It cost the owner of a house assessed at $250,000 approximately $4.50 more per year in property tax.

To prioritize projects, public works officials talked with school administrators and police. They inventoried walking routes within a mile radius of 34 elementary schools in unincorporated areas of the county.

“I’m pleased that we’ll be able to complete so many projects this summer, but we still have a lot of work to do in the coming years,” Lovick said in a prepared statement.

For a complete list of projects, go to www.snoco.org and search for “SKIP.”

To suggest future traffic-safety improvements near schools, write to owen.carter@snoco.org or talk to your local school district.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@heraldnet.com.

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