Brownstown to enhance crosswalks near schools



When school is in session in Brownstown, a caution sign is placed in the middle of North Walnut Street to slow traffic down near the middle school.

Many students use that crosswalk to go to and from school, and some parents park their vehicle in the area to pick their child up from school.

Town officials wanted to make that area safer, and an opportunity arose to make it happen.

In 2016, a $1.15 million obesity prevention grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was awarded to Jackson and Lawrence counties since they had the highest obesity rates in the state.

Kris Darlage Meyer, healthy community champion for the grant and an educator with Purdue Extension Jackson County, encouraged local officials to come up with projects, determine estimated costs and submit their proposals by July 1 to have a chance to receive money to cover needed materials.

Brownstown did that and now is gathering the materials to make the crosswalk more visible.

Councilman Gregg Goshorn said curb extensions will come out on both sides of the street that will result in vehicles going slower through the area.

Goshorn is working with Dale Shelton, the town’s street superintendent, to complete the work soon. Projects have to be completed, photographed and reported by late August. The two-year grant runs out in October.

The town hopes to get a group of students from the middle or high school to paint a design between the lines of the crosswalk.

“That way, they can kind of take ownership of it,” Councilman Mark Reynolds said.

In early March, Mark Fenton, a public health, planning and transportation consultant from Massachusetts, was invited by the Healthy Jackson County coalition to spend a couple of days discussing possible sidewalk and crosswalk improvements in Brownstown, Crothersville and Seymour.

In Brownstown, one of the areas of focus was crosswalks around the middle school. Police Chief Tom Hanner, who is on the town’s Safe Routes to School committee with Goshorn, expressed the need for curb extensions and painted crosswalks and signage on Walnut Street.

Hanner also said he would like to slow traffic down on Bloomington Road on the other side of the middle school. He said some motorists, mostly from out of town, use that road as a shortcut to avoid the stoplights on U.S. 50.

One option includes building up an area with a crosswalk and landscaping so traffic has to slow down.

The portions of Walnut Street and Bloomington Road near the school are school zones with 20 mph speed limits.

The Safe Routes to School committee also has talked about making safe walking and biking pathways from the middle school to the high school and from the downtown to the schools.

The group also is working on trying to get another way in and out of the elementary school. Currently, the only road available is Base Road. The idea is to connect Base Road to Steinkamp Street in the Lucas-Ackerman housing addition.

Goshorn said another idea is a biking or walking path and a crosswalk along Elm Street near the high school. That area gets congested during Friday night home football games, and kids often walk across the street to play at Lutheran Central School.

The town council is researching ways to make that area safer, including possibly restricting hours of when vehicles could be parked along Elm Street.

The council plans to discuss options at upcoming meetings, which are at 6 p.m. on the first and third Mondays of each month at the town hall.

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