Solar power is providing youthful energy with a safer place to cross the street at Redoubt Elementary school, thanks to the City of Soldotna. Last Wednesday city and school district officials gathered with students at the close of the school day to have an official ribbon cutting ceremony at the new crosswalk. According to Redoubt principal John Pothast, the project has been in the works for the last five years. "It was my first year here that we started the process with a group of parents on our site council. Because of the new development and increased traffic down toward the end of Redoubt, they saw the need for the street to be safer for kids walking to school. So we started the process of working the various agencies and finding funding to make it happen. It was a little complicated as we have a City street to a District school on Borough land, but five years later, with our thanks to Mayor Micciche and the City of Soldotna that came up with the funds, the new crosswalk is lit up and working today, " said Pothast.
"I use to live on Redoubt Avenue until a couple of years ago, and I'd watch the kids walking to school in the dark with the ice and slippery road conditions. Then as the subdivision was developed at the end of the road, it seemed traffic was not only increasing but speeding up rather than slowing down. So I got together with principal Pothast last year and we saw the delay was primarily funding, so the city decided that if we wanted it installed before someone got hurt, we'd pay for it ourselves," explained Mayor Micciche. The new solar powered crosswalk is one of the first of its kind this far north says Micciche. "The company that sold it to us agreed to do it on sort of a trial basis, and if it didn't work they'd give us our money back. There is no power to the lights, other than the solar powered battery which is photo sensitive and doesn't require direct sunlight to charge the battery, which has a two year life span or longer before replacement," said Micciche. "It's working very well and it seems as though the traffic has slowed already since the crosswalk was activated, especially during the important times of kids arriving and departing from school," agreed Pothast. The light is activated automatically during those time periods and also has a hand activated switch for children or other pedestrians crossing Redoubt after school or during weekend activities. "It's actually quite cost effective, so although I feel the most important role of government is to provide safe access to our schools and public buildings, the reality is this model has cost efficiencies that we may look at for other locations," added Micciche.
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