Walk to Highlands Elementary School now safer
Kristin Koch-Weser walks her neighbor Alana Palter to school as crossing guard Mary Danielson helps stop any traffic nearby. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 9, 2012 6:14AM
LAGRANGE HIGHLANDS — Even without sidewalks, LaGrange Highlands neighbors have made the walk to school safer for kids.
A committee working on safe routes to school was able to add two new pathways for students attending Highlands Elementary School, 5850 Laurel Ave., in cooperation with the Lyons Township Highway Department. The unincorporated neighborhood has no sidewalks.
Special lanes for bike riders and pedestrians were striped north of the school along Howard Avenue between 57th and 58th streets and south of the school on Howard between Plainfield Road 60th Street.
Howard Avenue north of Plainfield Road becomes one way for an hour before and after school when students would be using the pedestrian lane. Fewer motorists use Howard south of Plainfield Road, so it doesn’t become a one-way street.
“It’s been a great thing. It helps the kids out,” said Tom Hinshaw, president of the LaGrange Highlands District 106 Board and a member of the committee.
“Sidewalks are one of the political hot button issues, and they’re expensive to put in,” Hinshaw said. “Some are for it, and some are not.
“By putting the stripe down on the road, it’s a great way to give cars access and protect kids,” he said.
Previously, the committee worked to establish a pedestrian lane along 59th Street east of Wolf Road about four years ago.
Before beginning the recent project, Hinshaw said the committee surveyed neighborhood residents and found 88 percent of neighbors were in favor of striping one of several streets around the school to improve safety.
“Response from families now that the project is done has been overwhelmingly positive,” he said.
Sean McDermott, township highway commissioner, said the township spent about $7,000 on the striping project.
“It was a great project, a great collaborative effort between the school and community members,” McDermott said. “Depending on our budget for next year, we’d like to extend it further to 55th Street, north of the school.”