TWIN FALLS — Children walking to South Hills Middle School are improving their health and making their parents’ morning routines easier, but they may also be risking their safety. The city is attempting to alleviate some of those risks along roadways.
The school has presented an unusual situation for Twin Falls, City Engineer Jackie Fields told the City Council on Monday.
“Children are walking for more than a mile to school,” she said. “When the weather is inclement, they’re not inclined to ruin their shoes by walking in the ditch.”
Two projects proposed for state funding would create paths and sidewalk for children walking along Harrison Street and 3600 North. The city has already worked to enhance safety by reducing speed limits on nearby roads.
“Prioritizing child safety is so important,” Councilman Chris Talkington said.
The first project would pour 1,100 feet of sidewalk along 3600 North, from the entrance to the Skylane Trailer Park to a pedestrian crossing. Students would then cross a path constructed across school district property to the middle school parking lot. There would be a retaining wall along a portion of the project.
“We tried to be as direct as possible,” Fields said. “Because when I was 12 years old, I never took the long way anywhere.”
The next project would create a path along the east side of Harrison Street South from Orchard Drive to the sidewalk near El Camino Drive, with ramps at Orchard Drive and Harrison Street South.
The City Council voted Monday to allow the mayor to sign an application requesting $245,000 in leftover state funds to do the work. Additionally, Mayor Shawn Barigar was authorized to sign an application requesting more than $990,000 to reconstruct Locust Street North from Pole Line Road to North College Road.
If approved, the city won’t have to pay anything for these projects, Fields said, but it will do the administrative work to get them underway and completed by November 2018.
Also at the meeting, Twin Falls resident and Idaho Rep. Lance Clow talked about the city’s annual backflow device testing requirements for sprinkler systems using city water. He’d discovered the rationale for requiring yearly testing was that backflow device manufacturers guarantee the devices for only one year.
Clow said nearly every instance of a sprinkler system backing into the potable water system was because a device was installed incorrectly.
“I intend this year to look at the plumbing rules and see if this one paragraph of this one rule can be rejected,” he said.
Clow believes cities and counties should have the opportunity to mandate testing every three years instead, as an example.
The City Council will not meet next week because of the Christmas holiday. The next time it meets, Jan. 2, the Council will convene in the new City Hall Council Chambers, which can be accessed through the Main Avenue and Hansen Street entrances.