Safe Routes Mean More Opportunity for Ella Elementary Students
New street improvements make it safer to travel in rural Yuba County
January 27, 2021: Fresh pavement and new sidewalks are the new normal for Ella Elementary School in Olivehurst. The streets approaching the school have had major improvements recently, drastically changing the landscape for the better and making it safer for students to get to and from school.
Ella Elementary is located in Olivehurst, Yuba County, on 7th Avenue and Olivehurst Avenue. 7th Avenue had been a two-lane street with no road shoulders or sidewalks. When using that stretch of street, students and other pedestrians and bicyclists had to travel on the gravel shoulder in unsafe conditions. Sometimes students were even pushed onto the street itself because the shoulder had poor drainage and very large puddles, forcing students to make the choice of either walking through water and getting their shoes and pants wet, or attempting to avoid the large puddles and walking on the street.
The $1,032,000 project is on 7th Avenue between the railroad tracks and Olivehurst Avenue. This project is one of two on 7th Avenue that constructed curbs, curb ramps, and gutters; added sidewalks and bicycle lanes; painted striping; installed traffic control devices and rapid flash beacons; added raised crosswalks and curb extensions; built pedestrian refuge islands; and improved pedestrian lighting, all resulting in a safer street.
Before the improvements, residents had expressed concerns over the unsafe conditions, yet they still had to navigate the dangerous conditions to get their students to school and leave their community. “Our school serves the homes of many families that live within walking distance and so we have many students that were already walking and biking to school, but in unsafe conditions,” said Ella Elementary Principal Jennifer McAdam. Now though, residents are enjoying the new pavement, sidewalks, safe crosswalks, and pedestrian lighting. McAdam added, “The improvements have made a big difference in our students’ commute, making it safer and cleaner. Although the school is currently closed due to Covid-19, families continue to take advantage of the safe sidewalks while they walk up to pick up school lunches for their children. We are happy to see improvements to our infrastructure and are excited to see our students hit the sidewalks walking and rolling, and hopefully encouraging more active ways to get to school.”
Small scale projects like the street improvements near Ella Elementary are the backbone of all communities. Aside from creating safe environments for students and staff to get to and from school, the improvements to 7th Avenue promote overall active transportation. This road connects the low-income community to the Yuba-Sutter Transit facilities that in turn connect to other resources and amenities, including the City of Marysville, Yuba Community College, and transit to the City of Sacramento. Smaller scale projects like this continue to add to the connectivity of the region and overall safety and quality of life.