Safe Routes to School: Madison Byways to hold public meeting on Mustang Trail project

Madison Byways is continuing their work on developing a safe routes to school plan for Ennis and is now looking for public input.

The group is holding a public meeting next Wednesday, Oct. 13 to discuss some preliminary research they’ve done along with their consultant Joe Gilpin of Alta Planning and Design in Bozeman.

“We’re going to be presenting basically our findings from the observations and our initial ideas for things we can propose in the plan,” Gilpin said.

The Madison Byways is a non-profit group in Ennis focused on developing trails in and around town. Their first project is called The Mustang Trail: Starting a Safe Routes to School Program in Ennis. They were awarded a $20,000 Safe Routes to School grant for the project earlier this year.

The idea behind the project is to provide kids in Ennis a safer way to walk or ride their bike to and from school, said Becky Vujovich, an Ennis town commissioner and member of Madison Byways.

The group hired Gilpin to develop a Safe Routes to School plan for Ennis.

Recently, Gilpin and volunteers from the group have been monitoring traffic around Ennis and the school. They have also run traffic counts at three different spots on the highways through town.

Madison Byways has also formed an advisory group for The Mustang Trail and Gilpin will be presenting to this group on Wednesday. The eight-member group is made up of school officials, business leaders and town officials.

Gilpin is hoping the advisory group and members of the public will provide insight into the data he and the volunteers have gathered to this point and some input on the direction he’s heading.

“We want to get a preliminary project list out of this meeting,” he said. “This meeting is pretty much where it is, that’s where we’re getting our public input.”

The solutions to finding safer routes to and from school in Ennis are going to be different than in larger cities, Gilpin said.

In Ennis it could mean identifying and marking the safest routes, or strategically lowering speed limits, or making crosswalks more visible.

The point is to find safe ways to connect neighborhoods and the school, he said.

“We’ll try and find fairly inexpensive and effective things we can do that will improve safety and connectivity,” Gilpin said.

And public input is going to be crucial, Vujovich said.

“I think there is a great desire to be able to walk to more places around Ennis,” she said. “I think it’s a really important thing for our town to develop to encourage tourism and improve our infrastructure as well.”

The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. on Ennis Town Hall. For more information, call Vujovich at 682-3724.

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