Minturn program would put sidewalks in the south end of town
MINTURN — Roll through the south end of Minturn on a weekday morning and you’re struck by the sight of fidgety kids waiting for the school bus.
There are no sidewalks and no bus shelter. The kids stand among parked cars and trash cans.
The town of Minturn is chasing a federal grant to remedy that.
It’s called Safe Routes to School. The feds would come up with the money and the Colorado Department of Transportation would build the sidewalks.
The school district is on board, and the county’s ECO transportation system is supporting the effort, since several Minturn students ride ECO buses to school.
“Getting a sidewalk constructed is important so the kids have a safe place to stand and wait,” said Janet Hawkinson, Minturn’s town planner.
The south end of Minturn doesn’t have any sidewalks for about a half mile, Hawkinson said. It’s a residential area, and the kids all take the bus to schools outside of town.
“In the winter, they’re in the snow and slush. Then the bus stops on one side of the road and the kids have to cross the highway,” Hawkinson said. “This isn’t a sane way for kids to get to school.”
A matter of safety
If the area becomes a school zone, the speed limit drops dramatically. And it needs to, Hawkinson said. Motorists commuting to and from jobs come off the mountain south of Minturn and are often rolling much faster than is safe, she said.
Minturn Police Chief Brad Lamb cut his law enforcement teeth on traffic safety in school zones. Students wait on the shoulder of a busy U.S. highway. Students wait for the bus to stop traffic — which it usually does, but not always — or take a chance and run across the highway.
“There is no barrier or structure where children can wait,” Lamb said. “They simply stand on the dirt shoulder of the highway during the busy morning commute. … For me, the greatest concern was for the younger children who don’t always pay close attention to their surroundings.”
Students, families and staff of the Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy, as well as the Ski & Snowboard Club Vail and residents of Maloit Park roll through that intersection a few times each day.
The academy building has been a school for decades, but when it was Minturn Middle School, only 15-18 teachers and 25-30 residents drove through that intersection.
That changed dramatically when it became the Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy a few years ago. That intersection is now used daily by up to 90 of the academy’s student drivers, 12 vans with equipment trailers, 75 parent drivers, 25 teachers and more than 80 ski coaches, tuning techs and administrative staff.
The 25-30 people who lived in Maloit Park still do, and still drive through that intersection.
“I understand that making speed changes is not an easy proposition for CDOT, but as a parent and the headmaster of VSSA, I support this speed change,” Grimmer said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and email@example.com.