Students at Silver Hills Elementary likely will no longer have to dodge cars on their way to class.
Thanks to the efforts and hard work of community members whose children attend the school, students probably will soon get a pedestrian overpass so they won't have to cross busy 56th West to attend school.The school is at 5770 W. 51st South in West Valley City. Recent accidents have prompted parents to push for the structure out of concern for their children's safety.
"Everyone told us we were too optimistic," said Valerie Stanley, Silver Hills PTA president. "But everything just fell into place. This is what we wanted."
Residents held a town meeting June 1 and invited government officials and representatives to address their problem and desire for an overpass. The Utah Department of Transportation said the community would need to fund half of the project before the remaining money could be provided.
UDOT gave approval for that 50 percent last week for a total of $110,000. Sheldon McConkie, District 2 director, said the response to raise half of the money came very quickly.
"It's ordinarily very difficult for a community to raise their share," he said. The active involvement of the community and the PTA is the reason he cites for the quick action.
McConkie said UDOT will begin structure design and bid requests for the overpass soon, but does not expect the construction to be completed until next spring.
"With exceptionally good luck, we could be done earlier," he said.
The total cost of the overpass is estimated at $220,000, but donations are already near the $110,000 the parents must raise. Salt Lake County has agreed to fund $21,000, while West Valley City has promised up to $20,000, even though none of the students live in West Valley City. Granite School District has promised to fund 25 percent of the cost, and Stanley said local Hercules officials are in the process of requesting $15,000 from their corporate heads.
"We're not worrying about money so much any more," she said. "We've really been pleased with everyone who has allocated money."
Silver Hills is located on the west side of 56th West, yet all of its students live east of that highway. The school was built with the expectation that growth would occur on the west side, but Hercules later received a moratorium on all construction in the area. About 650 students cross the highway each day.
In addition to the construction of an enclosed, covered bridge overpass, Stanley said a cement barrier with a 4-foot fence will be built in the middle of the street so children won't be tempted to cross the street without using the overpass.