ELK GROVE, Calif. — Parents of students at Franklin Elementary School in Elk Grove are happy after learning the school is getting a new campus within city limits. The construction of the new campus comes after years of traffic gridlock and pedestrian safety issues and concerns.
According to Elk Grove Unified School District officials, the school, currently located on Hood Franklin Road within Sacramento County limits, was built in 1955 and modernized in 1994. But modernized by 1994 standards is not modernized by today's standards.
Some of the problems parents take umbrage with are the lack of sidewalks, crosswalks and bike paths. Many parents told ABC10 it was nearly impossible for them to drop off and pick up their kids.
“My son can’t ride his bike to school, he can’t walk here, and if I’m not here twenty minutes before, he is going to be late because the traffic with the drop off,” Patrick Storm said, explaining the daily hassle dropping off his first grader.
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According to Edwin Lopez, who drops off his son at school every morning, the situation gets worse every morning. “Between the students crossing, sometimes the people parking on the side of the road, it is very unsafe for everyone,” he said.
And Lopez is correct — sidewalk-less roads are unsafe.
A recent Federal Highway Administration study shows annually, around 4,500 pedestrians are killed in traffic crashes with in the United States. And pedestrians killed while "walking along the roadway" account for almost 8 percent of these deaths.
Many of the crashes are preventable. According to the study, providing walkways separated from the travel lanes could help prevent up to 88 percent of "walking along roadway crashes.” But many Sacramento-area schools in unincorporated areas don’t have crosswalks.
“Its very challenging for schools that have been on this kind of place,” Lopez said. Education officials say the reason for the problem is the unexpected development of specific areas in Northern California.
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A community meeting was held at the school last year, where parents expressed their frustrations with the condition of the school building and lack of sidewalks. The district even encouraged parents to write to their state legislators to take action so the school could be replaced.
The district says the growth in development, student population and the school's location within county limits made it complicated to put in sidewalks.
“In this particular location, it's a little bit land locked in the county with access to the freeway, with access to other commuters — just development has been growing in this area,” explained EGUSD spokesperson Xanthi Pinkerton.
Pinkerton said it would have taken 10 years to complete all the upgrades the school needs, which is why they did not consider repairing the current campus as an option. That's why building a different school was the best option.
"We wanted to make sure students were able to get to school safely,” Pinkerton added.
The EGUSD broke ground on the new site Tuesday morning, and students will stay at the current site until the new campus is ready in Fall 2020. The new school will cost $32 million — money which comes from special financing, the board approved late 2018.
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