Beach, Belfield to begin $100K ‘Safe Route’ projectsTwo sidewalk improvement projects nearing $100,000 each will soon be underway in Belfield and Beach to help encourage children to get off the road and walk or bike to school in the upcoming year, city officials said. Beach is expected to begin its project today and Belfield should start in the next few weeks.
By: Klark Byrd, The Dickinson Press
Two sidewalk improvement projects nearing $100,000 each will soon be underway in Belfield and Beach to help encourage children to get off the road and walk or bike to school in the upcoming year, city officials said.
Beach is expected to begin its project today and Belfield should start in the next few weeks.
The projects are part of the Department of Transportation’s federally-aided Safe Routes to School program. Eleven eligible projects across the state were granted 100 percent federal DOT funding. The SRTS program is part of the Federal Highway Transportation Bill and is focused on making walking and biking a safe and routine activity for students.
It is estimated that less than 15 percent of students walk to school, according to the DOT website.
Belfield Superintendent Darrel Remington said he oversees 212 students and that many might be encouraged to walk or bike by the improvement of the paths, but not everyone.
“I think the younger ones will use it, but they do get into cars after a while,” he said. “But, I think both groups will take
Almost a third-mile of sidewalk will be improved for about $97,000, which was funded by the DOT, Belfield Auditor Cindy Ewoniuk said.
Remington said it is worth it for the project.
“Anything we can do to increase child safety is important to all of us,” he said.
Beach Auditor Kimberly Nunberg reported that the improvement project in Beach is scheduled to begin today from Sixth Street North to Fourth Street South on Central Avenue and will cost more than $81,000.
Beach Superintendent Larry Helvik said the new sidewalk would offer a safe walking route to school with continuous paths from downtown to the high school.
Helvik said it will be difficult to say if more students will start walking or biking because of it because there are many rural students who must drive. However, he said they were “fortunate” to get the funding.
Nunberg agreed, saying that pedestrians who walk or bike now are forced to go back and forth between the street and sidewalk.
Belfield is hosting a public pre-construction meeting at 1:30 p.m. at City Hall on July 6.
The Beach project is expected to be completed by June 30, Nunberg said.