Kalmiopsis Elementary School children returning to school this week discovered a brand new road, sidewalks, gutters and crosswalks on Easy Street.

The project is the result of $663,000 in grant funding and collaboration among city, state and federal agencies and private contractors. Planning for the project started in 2008.

"Almost six years later and here we are!" declared Richard Christensen, public works supervisor for the city of Brookings, during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday.

Christensen and Public Works Administrative Assistant Lauri Ziemer were credited for working closing with school officials to obtain the federal grant that covered most of the project's costs.

For Kalmiopsis Principal Helena Chirinian, the completed project provides students safer access to and from the campus.

"It funnels the kids through the crosswalks. It's actually working! So we're happy with that," Chirinian said.

Starting in June, right after school finished, contractors, including Brookings-based Tidewater Contractors, Inc., Brock Construction of Coos Bay, and Dave Evans Engineering, began tearing up the existing road, which was closed to through traffic all summer. The work was based on plans designed and managed by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT).

Primary funding for the project - $587,500 - came from the federal "Safe Routes to School" program, administered by ODOT.

The city of Brookings contributed an additional $76,187, said City Manager Gary Milliman.

The goal of the project was to increase safety for children walking and bicycling to school by installing 1,600 feet of curbs, gutters, sidewalks and bike lanes on both sides of Easy Street in front of the school, connecting to the adjacent streets.

"It want to thank everyone for their great cooperation," Milliman said Friday. "And thank you Tidewater for finishing the project on time, right before school started."

The project includes a feature that is a first for the city, Milliman said.

"The project includes features such as bioswales and water quality planters to help with storm runoff," he said.

ODOT Project Manager Scott Adams said he and ODOT Inspector Dave Davies visited the site Thursday and observed the students using the new sidewalks and crosswalks.

"We watched the kids after school yesterday and it was very satisfying to see them using it," Adams said.

Brookings Mayor Ron Hedenskog, acknowledging the initial efforts by Christensen and Public Works Director Loree Pryce, said the project "is the result of people with a community vision who kept it from going into the trash and made it happen."

Christensen said, "Tidewater did a great job. ODOT did a great job. The crews did a great job. It's something we can all be proud of."