Harrisburg constructing "safe routes" for kids

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

HARRISBURG, AR (KAIT) – Officials with the Harrisburg School District said Tuesday students and city residents can take advantage of a new routing system the city is installing. The city obtained a $173,000 grant to install concrete sidewalks near roads that don't already have them.

"The goal of the grant is to provide a safe route to school and that's the title of the grant and it's also to encourage physical activity, walking and bicycling to and from school," said Doug Worley. "Within a mile of the school, which our phase three kind of addressed, within a mile of the school, we think we could have about 700 kids that could possibly potential bike or walk to school."

Worley said the city is working on phase one of a three phase project. He said children in the EAST Lab helped determine which roads needed safe routes.

"We have two major highways running, one runs directly by our high school and middle school campus, the other one is highway 14, which is half a block away. Kids have to cross those highways to get to school," said Worley. "They did some work on mapping out where our sidewalks are at and how we could incorporate what we saw as the goal of the project to phase three."

According to Mayor Donnie Faulkner, the city plans to take phase one to a play school near the Poinsett County Courthouse from the high school.

"We're going down South Street right now and we want to eventually end at the play school," said Faulkner.

"In the afternoons when school lets out, the kids just walk out in the road," said Faulkner. "A lot of these kids walk already but maybe a lot more will walk now that we've got the sidewalks and the facilities from the walk back and forth to school and their parents will feel a lot safer about letting them walk to school."

The safe route crosses a railroad on South Street. Worley said the cost to install a concrete crossing at the railway could cost $60,000.

"We have to replace the old cross ties there with an actual concrete railroad crossing that has to be done in conjunction with the city as well as in conjunction with the railroad company so you can roll a wheelchair across a railroad track," said Worley. "We actually have had a couple of kids hit by vehicles crossing there, even though we have crossing arms and all of that stuff in the afternoon."

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