For next school year, students attending five different schools could have a new, safe route to class.
Work has begun on a $387,000 project that will add and improve sidewalks on the citys northeast side, providing a safe route to school for students who walk or ride their bikes, said Dawn Ritchie, Greenways manager for the city of Fort Wayne.
In 1969, about half of all students walked or bicycled to school, but today less than 15 percent of all school trips are made by walking or biking. More than half of all children arrive at school by car, according to the Indiana Department of Transportation.
The city received a $250,000 grant through the Indiana Safe Routes to School Program, which is based on a federal program, toward the construction of nearly 1 mile of sidewalk that will connect 11 neighborhoods with five schools.
The changes will also connect the neighborhoods residents with the stores and restaurants in Georgetown Square and a branch of the Allen County Public Library.
The connectivity to business is a bonus to the citys top concern of connecting schools with residents, Ritchie said.
The city is excited to give residents the option of walking or biking to get where they need to go. Connecting neighborhoods through sidewalks and trails has been a priority of Mayor Tom Henry, she said.
Since the beginning of the month, crews have been working to put in storm drains and were expected to start work on the sidewalk last week. The project will also provide accessible curb ramps for those with disabilities and safe crossings. It is expected to be completed by the end of June.