For the second year in a row, the Children's Hospital at Erlanger Safe and Sound Program, Safe Kids Greater Chattanooga and the community has received a $25,000 grant from FedEx to improve and to promote city-wide child pedestrian initiatives. That is a worthy endeavor that should be undertaken whether grant money is available or not. The award of the grant, however, makes improvements far more likely to occur in a relatively short time frame.
The effort to improve child pedestrian is certainly needed. In 2010, 31 patients were treated at Children's Hospital at Erlanger for pedestrian injuries. Nine were admitted to the hospital for extended treatment. Their average stay was more than six days which generated a bill averaging $57,000, according to a news release. The goal of the grant program is to prevent child-pedestrian accidents throughout the community. There are programs in place to addresses the issue, but the grant augments them and provides an infusion of funds to underwrite the cost of infrastructure improvements to promote safety. The $25,000 grant, recently accepted by hospital, program and community officials, will be used for a variety of projects. Current recommendations for the grant money include:
• A solar-powered sign for reading vehicle speeds on East Third Street near Orchard Knob Elementary School to alert drivers to decrease speeds near the school;
• The addition of pedestrian signals and countdown timers to the crosswalk at the intersection of Wilcox Boulevard and Dodson Avenue in East Chattanooga to help ensure pedestrians a safer crossing to Avondale Recreation Center and a convenience store.
• The application of street stencils on Orchard Knob Avenue in front of Carver Recreation Center and on Dodson Avenue in front of East Chattanooga Recreation Center to notify drivers of these pedestrian-crossing areas.
• Constructing a sidewalk at Battle Academy on Market Street to better connect street crosswalks that are already in place.
• Adding street stencils at Market Street and West 16th Street to inform drivers of the Battle Academy school zone.
Any or all of the recommended projects should increase awareness and improve the safety of pedestrians -- mostly youngsters -- in several of the city's high-traffic and high-risk locations. The grant that encourages and helps underwrite such work is certainly a welcome one, especially if its serves as a catalyst for the community to continue to undertake similar and equally needed projects elsewhere in the community.