Construction to begin on new sidewalks

ASHLAND, VA (WWBT) - The town of Ashland is getting a facelift this summer, and it will mean a safer walk to school for kids this fall.  Crews will soon be working on putting in new sidewalks near Henry Clay Elementary.

There's a lot of foot traffic in this neighborhood, especially with kids walking to school; now you can see there are already some sidewalks, but there's still work to be done, and you are going to see that start this summer.

"If not this week, we will certainly start the week after the Fourth," said town engineer Ingrid Stenbjorn.

Crews will be building sidewalks along Hanover Avenue and South James Street near Henry Clay Elementary.

"We've had a lot of requests for us to finish this stretch of sidewalk from South James Street to the ball fields," Stenbjorn said.

Though the town has gotten mostly positive feedback, a few people living in the neighborhood fear more sidewalks will bring more foot traffic and problems like littering.  Town leaders say the only goal here is safety.  This project is being funded a $45,000 grant through VDOT's Safe Routes to School.

"What strives to do is connect schools with neighborhoods so that students can walk can school and parents can walk their students to school, and it's safe," Stenbjorn said.

Putting in more sidewalks has actually been a serious goal of Ashland town leaders for about a year now.

"We want to make it a more walkable community," Stenbjorn said.

Through town funds, crews started working on installing sidewalks on the other side of town in the neighborhood including Pleasant and Randolph streets.  There's a lot of people walking to school or work in that area.  Folks living there are happy with the work so far, but want more.

Hal Baker, who lives in Ashland, says, "We are very happy; the neighborhood has had about half of the sidewalks installed; we still have some sidewalks to go, and that's our neighborhood issue that we would like to have the work completed; they need to finish the job because we have a safety issue."

The sidewalks on Hanover and South James Street should be completed by August 31 before school starts back up in the fall.

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