City, BRPS receive traffic safety award

From left to right, Big Rapids Public Works Director Heather Bowman, Public Safety Director Jim Eddinger and Big Rapids Public Schools Superintendent Tim Haist accept a 2018 Outstanding Traffic Safety Achievement Award from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Commission Wednesday in East Lansing. The award recognizes the collaboration between the city and school district for traffic changes implemented before the start of the 2018-19 school year at Brookside and Riverview elementary schools. (Courtesy photo)

BIG RAPIDS — State officials have recognized a collaboration between public safety and the public school district which helped reduce the potential for dangerous traffic around two elementary schools.

The Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Commission (GTSAC) presented the Big Rapids Department of Public Safety and Big Rapids Public Schools with a 2018 Outstanding Traffic Safety Achievement Award for the traffic changes implemented at Brookside and Riverview elementary schools prior to the start of academic year.

The changes have helped reduce the risk of children and adults being hurt by traffic in front of the buildings during the transition periods throughout the school day, said DPS Director Jim Eddinger.

Eddinger, along with Big Rapids Public Works Director Heather Bowman and BRPS Superintendent Tim Haist accepted the award on Wednesday at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center in East Lansing.

“I’m really excited about the award,” Eddinger said. “It started a while back with this idea and I got with (Bowman), and she was someone who shared my values and saw the need for the changes.”

Eddinger said he and Bowman met with city engineers from Fleis and VandenBrink, who were instrumental in formulating a new traffic plan for the area surrounding the schools.

Prior to those meetings, Eddinger said he spoke with Haist about the project and the benefits to the school district and city.

“He agreed quickly that we could definitely do better than what was there,” Eddinger said. “It really was fun working collaboratively with the school on this project.”

The partnership between the district and the city, Haist added, worked out extremely well with the city’s leadership and willingness to work together.

“I think we were all aware there were items that needed to be addressed,” he said. “(Eddinger) approached us last year and we had the conversation. It was something we were excited about to work with him to find a solution that would work.”

For the district, Haist said it’s important for officials to always try to create a good flow during the pick-up and drop-off times, providing clear identification for parents for where they should be picking up their kids.

“We’ve been able to create that new flow and it really has created a more efficient, safer way during those times,” he said. “It’s nice to receive the recognition, especially when it’s a collaboration between the city of Big Rapids and Big Rapids Public Schools.”

Since the changes to the traffic by the two elementary schools, Eddinger said there haven’t been any complaints or close calls.

“When you go to the schools now in morning, the traffic is much better and flows smoother,” he said. “If I’m paying city and school taxes, this is exactly what I want to see, when everyone is coming together and working together.”

The DPS and BRPS were nominated for the award by Ferris State University Department of Public Safety Director Bruce Borkovich.

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Posted by Brandon Fountain

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