State grant funds Vidalia sidewalks

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 14, 2005

VIDALIA &8212; Vidalia residents have probably noticed the dust, the workers and, finally, the finished product.

Several miles worth of sidewalks have been springing up around Vidalia the past few months as the town utilizes a $435,000 Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Enhancement Grant to put in the walkways.

The grant was secured from the state in late 2004 and a contract was secured last summer. The grants, which are federally funded and administered through LDOTD, are intended to promote alternative transportation such as walking and bicycling. Louisiana gives out several million dollars a year in grants.

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Enhancement grants are given for many types of projects in communities, including landscaping, safety programs, building museum facilities and archaeological research. Vidalia&8217;s project falls under the building facilities for pedestrians and bicycles provision.

The town placed a priority on putting the sidewalks on streets near schools, particularly Vidalia Junior High and Vidalia Upper and Lower Elementary schools, Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland said. All three schools are located near downtown, and many students walk to school each day.

&8220;About 80 percent of the streets that lead to schools now have sidewalks,&8221; Copeland said. &8220;We wanted to make sure the kids could walk to school on these.&8221;

Construction on the sidewalks began during the summer. Nottingham Construction, a private contractor hired by the state, has handled the construction and should have all work completed within the next 30 days or so, Copeland said.

&8220;We&8217;ve had very few complaints,&8221; Copeland said. &8220;You expect a few just because we had to go across people&8217;s driveways and through their yards, but the response I&8217;ve had has been very positive.&8221;