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A new bridge over the Jordan River finished construction to help bring children safely to school

Posted at 5:56 PM, Sep 29, 2022

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Eight years in the making, the newly constructed bridge over the Jordan River will help kids who live across the school and nearby communities to learn about nature while avoiding the busy roads.

It started around 2014 when families came forward asking if there was a way to get their kids to school easily. The family school collaboration specialist and then principal at the time Karina Villalba, helped raise the money to fund its construction.

"Families know that we are hearing them, we’re listening to the fact that they wanted their children to have a safer route,” said Villalba. “The space that had been somewhat neglected since I was a child, being cleaned up and making the space just safer for the children, has made the experience of being in school better, because the children know that they’re valued.”

The school believes by making a safer alternative to send kids to school and back, families will be more comfortable sending their children and help increase attendance rates.

"[The kids] were having to walk alongside the camps, that had homeless folks in them. It was scary to walk through the woods, they didn’t want to wake the people up, realizing that our children should not feel that way," said Villalba. "They should be ready to come to school and know that it’s a safe path, was really important."

Patricia Hanna, whose granddaughters go to Backman, said this is exactly what they needed.

“The safety of it, you know. It’s so close. I don’t have to drive no more, just walk to the bridge and pick them up," said Hanna. "It’s nice, so nice."

Salt Lake City Mayor Mendenhall spoke at the celebration for the completion of the new bridge on the important of having the bridge is to connect these communities closer together.

“Kids and families had to walk a half mile on a busy road to and from school in traffic along the side of a busy road to get to Backman elementary," said Mendenhall. "A river divided the school from the neighborhoods who needed to get here."

After cleaning and developing this space to help bridge, the school says their next project is building a classroom space on the other side to help kids learn about the outdoors, right where they live.