Colchester hopes to better school sidewalks through grant

City officials in McDonough County are concerned for kids’ safety on their way to and from school. The problem is in Colchester, Illinois, and is affecting the elementary and middle school. 

It’s the sidewalks that are raising safety concerns as kids go to and from the elementary and middle school. The sidewalks are falling apart and not usable for bikes, strollers or wheelchairs. They also don’t connect through all the neighborhoods and that’s why city leaders are pushing for change.

City officials and residents in Colchester said the sidewalks are no longer safe for students and need to be replaced. 

"It’s not even, it’s up and down, so if you have kids, moms are pushing strollers, you have kids who have wheelchairs or crutches or something, it’s not even for them, it’s hard to walk," Resident Sheri Beck said. 

There is also a lack of sidewalks in nearby neighborhoods.

"It isn’t enough for the kids," Beck said. "They’re walking in the road most of the time."

That’s why city leaders are applying for a 200,000 dollar grant through the Illinois Safe Routes to School Program.

The Prairie School District superintendent Carol Kilver said her students’ safety is her biggest concern. That’s why if they get the grant, it will go toward making repairs all down Roberts Street, to sidewalks, making it more safe for elementary and middle schoolers to walk to school.

"When we look at safety, it goes beyond the school day and what happens inside the school building," Kilver said. "We’re always looking at what we can do to promote safe travel to and from the home." 

If approved, the city plans to replace the sidewalks that connect the middle and elementary school, as students use it daily. They also want to add a half mile of sidewalks in the neighborhoods. 

"I would be a lot less concerned for the kids walking back and forth to school, that they’re gonna get hit, or fall," Beck said. "It just definitely needs to be repaired."

City officials are currently working with the engineers and the school district to create an official plan with what sidewalks to fix and add, if they would receive the grant.

The grant must be completed and submitted before November 19. They don’t know when they will find out if they’ve received it, but plan to start construction sometime next year.

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