Lines in orange show the five areas where sidewalks will be added. They are designed to improve routes to Dawson and West Ward elementary schools as well as L.E. White Middle School. The blue line to the northwest shows where an asphalt path is planned. Yellow lines denote existing sidewalks. Construction is slated for 2019. (Map provided)

Allegan wins $650K grant for sidewalks

By: 
Ryan Lewis, Editor

A collaboration to construct more sidewalks near Allegan schools found out late last month that a state grant would fund a large portion of the project.

Allegan Township supervisor Steve Schulz announced at his board’s meeting Monday, Nov. 6, that the Michigan Department of Transportation would fund $650,535 worth of work through its Safe Routes 2 School grant program.

“Basically it’s to help promote physical fitness and walking and biking to school,” Schulz said. “And to keep (students) safe getting there and back home.”

He referenced the last Safe Routes grant project in town in 2012, one a little more than half the scope of this one, that added sidewalks near Hillside Learning and Behavior Center at Grove Street and also leading east down M-89/M-40 and continuing along M-222 past Jaycee Park and Village Market. It also added a crosswalk with caution lights near the park.

The new project, slated for construction in 2019, will add sidewalks near Dawson and West Ward elementary schools and L.E. White Middle School.

Like the previous project, Schulz said the design is expected to again incorporate 5-foot wide sidewalks.

“We’re pretty excited about that,” he said. “We still have a few things to hash out and get some plans done. We’ve been working on that for about two-and-a-half years.”

Sidewalk work includes primarily:

• south side of Delano from Sherman to Adams

• north/east side of Lincoln (M-40/M-89) from approximately Pine to Grant (part of this work is planned as an asphalt path)

• both sides of Grant from Western (M-40/M-89) to Delano

• both sides of 115th Avenue from the “Tiger Trail” at the middle school west to 34th Street

• both sides of Knapp from Vernon to Academy

Plans originally also called for sidewalks along Academy and Goodrich Street, but that work was not approved. The grant program typically only approves approximately $200,000 per affected school; the original grant request topped $829,000.

The grant was submitted in October 2016. The competitive grants are federal money dispersed by MDOT in cooperation with the Michigan Fitness Foundation, created in 1994 as a nonprofit to expedite the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness, Health and Sports’ policies and programs.

Per its website, “Safe Routes to School aims to create safe, convenient and fun opportunities for children to bicycle and walk to and from schools. The goal is to reverse the decline in children walking and bicycling to schools, increase kids’ safety and reverse the alarming nationwide trend toward childhood obesity and inactivity.”

The city and the township will be expected to maintain the sidewalks after they’re constructed. Schulz said the township was exploring contracting with the city for snow removal since the city already had equipment to handle that.

Schulz said the city and township will end up spending money towards the project, but exact amounts were not yet available. Engineering firm Prein & Newhof provided the technical assistance to prepare the preliminary plans for the grant request.

Contact Ryan Lewis at rmlewis@allegannews.com.

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