Sidewalk project begins first phase

The village of Fayetteville received a $650,000 federal grant to fund the construction of new sidewalks as part of the nation-wide "Safe Routes to School" initiative and is slated to begin the initial planning this week.

"Safe Routes to School" is funded by the Federal Highway Administration and is organized by each state's department of transportation. The program's main function is to raise awareness of pedestrian and biking safety, as well as to maintain safe pedestrian walkways within a two-mile radius of elementary and middle schools throughout the country.

In Fayetteville, new sidewalks will be constructed on Route 5, Salt Springs Road, Route 257 and Sheffield Lane, said Mayor Mark Olson. All these roads lie within the two-mile radius of Fayetteville Elementary, Mott Road Elementary and Immaculate Conception schools.

"The great thing about this project is that once it's completed, all neighborhoods within the village will have sidewalks," Olson said.

While the majority of the funds, which were obtained through a competitive grant process, will be used to construct the sidewalks, a portion of the money will go towards safety education in the schools. These programs will be geared towards students in kindergarten through eighth grade, and will focus on "healthy transportation alternatives," such as how to walk and bike safely on sidewalks.

The initial planning phase, set to begin this week, will include engineering and inspection by the Onondaga County Department of Transportation, and will be completed this fall. Construction will begin April 2010.

Concerned taxpayers need not worry because the program is being completely funded by the grant. There will be no increase in taxes due to the construction, Olson said.

"In the end, the new sidewalk system will benefit everyone in the village," he said. "They're pedestrian friendly, so the sidewalks will not only keep the students safe, but also give other residents a chance to walk around and enjoy the village."

For more information, visit nysdot.gov or saferoutespartnership.org.

Caitlin Donnelly is a Syracuse University intern majoring in journalism.

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