Parents petitioned the city last year for better walkways in school zones.
Cape Girardeau city officials hope new sidewalks in the northwest part of town will make it safer and easier for children to walk to school.
The city engineer's office put out for bid a project that will add 4,600 feet of sidewalk, much of it in the area surrounding Alma Schrader Elementary School at 1360 Randol Ave.
The surrounding neighborhoods weren't designed with foot traffic in mind, school officials said. The only sidewalks near the school are on Janet Drive from Dennis Scivally Park to Randol Avenue. All other streets have lawns all the way to the curb.
"It's a very high-traffic area, and a lot of kids get picked up in cars after school, so the kids that do walk are walking in between cars and through traffic on their way home," said principal Ruthann Orr. "It's just not safe for those kids."
Kimberly Horton, whose 8-year-old daughter Saige walks to school every day from their home on Melrose Avenue, agreed.
"I don't really like the kids walking," she said. "Cars are always pulling up and parking, so the kids have to choose between walking in the middle of the street and walking in somebody's yard."
The new sidewalks will run along Randol Avenue between Allendale Drive and Lynnwood Drive and along Masters Drive between Randol Avenue and Brookwood Drive. In another area of town, the city will add sidewalks along Parkview Drive between Perry Avenue and West End Boulevard near Capaha Park.
City manager Doug Leslie said that, if funds allow, a sidewalk will go in along Dennis Scivally Park at Brookwood Drive.
The project was partially inspired by "Walk to School Day" held last October when more than 100 students, parents and teachers walked to Alma Schrader. The lack of safe walkways during the annual event caused Dr. Mark Langenfeld and other parents to petition the city for better sidewalks in school zones.
"If you build them, they will walk," Langenfeld said at the time.
City engineer Jay Stencel said the current effort is part of the city's master plan to fill in the gaps of sidewalk coverage and add sidewalks where they're most needed.
"This is our first sidewalk project of the year, and we hope to get it done by the time school starts back up again," he said.
Stencel said the sidewalks will be built to higher standards than others around the city. That means the addition of bumps, ramps and color striping to alert disabled pedestrians when they are entering an intersection.
Orr said this addition, which meets Americans with Disabilities Act standards, was a needed one.
"We do have children who would be in need of this. Depending on the school year, we have kids in wheelchairs and also parents who need wheelchair access," she said. "Right now we have one student who is deaf and blind, so this will be a major improvement."
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