Stadium sidewalk project to improve safety for students
DECATUR — There are always hidden dangers around every corner in most communities around the country. Dangers like blind spots along many streets and roads where accidents are and sometimes do happen, resulting in injury or even death. One such danger exists in the eastern part of Decatur along a moderately traveled road.
Motorists turning from Ninth Street onto Stadium Avenue face a narrow roadway, deep rolling hills, a large apartment complex on the right and a high school on the left. And, between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. and again from 3 p.m. until 4 p.m., there is a group of kids from both Decatur Middle and High Schools that walk along Stadium Avenue, as do tenants from the Garden Walk Apartment complex. Kids walking along this road do not always walk in a single file or close to the shoulder. Some even fan out across the road from shoulder to shoulder. This is where the danger lies.
There is a series of four hills with three deep valleys along Stadium Avenue. These deep recessions can hide pedestrians when a motorist is in the next valley. When cars top the hills, they suddenly come upon pedestrians and can hit and seriously injure them. Fortunately, the drivers in this area are mindful of this and take extra care when transiting this area.
About three years ago, a few area residents went to Decatur mayor Bob Tharp with the idea of building a sidewalk along Stadium Avenue. Tharp was very receptive to the idea and took it to the city council.
“During the last eight years, as I have had the privilege to be mayor of Decatur, the city council has been completely supportive of adding sidewalks in strategic locations,” Tharp said. “Sidewalk projects for the past 20 years, dating back to Mayor Bill Montgomery and Mayor Charles Linam, have been strategic in nature. We have been able in all of these to get ARDOT support with matching funds for their construction.”
In that time, Tharp and the city council were able to complete a network of sidewalks that began at Bredehoeft Road to the east and continued through downtown Decatur and out west to Veterans Park. So now the mayor and council turned their attention to the Stadium Avenue project and approached the Arkansas Department of Transportation to apply for a matching grant to fund this project.
During the regularly scheduled council meeting at Decatur City Hall on Nov.14, Tharp announced that the city of Decatur was awarded $200,000 in federal grant money — about what the city requested — for the project, which is good news for people walking or driving down Stadium Avenue.
“Our goal for this sidewalk project is to connect at Rooster and Highway 102 to Stadium, then west to Hill Street. When completed, it will give a safe walkway for students going to school,” Tharp explained. “The state pays 80% while the city pays 20%. Even with the HillStadium Sidewalk project, the city will match $40,000, and the state will contribute $200,000.”
No timeline on when the project will start was available at press time.