By Troy Bryant Jr., freelance reporter
In a significant step toward enhancing pedestrian safety and accessibility, the City of Dayton is constructing a 1.9-mile sidewalk and curb ramps along SH 321 (Cleveland Street), connecting Dayton High School to the north and US 90 to the south.
The new sidewalk also connects to W Clayton St., W Waring St., W Linney St., W Lawrence St., and crosses at Cherry Creek Rd. in front of Dr. E.R. Richter Elementary School. Continuing up N Cleveland St., the sidewalk stops at the north parking lot of Dayton High School.
The Texas Department of Transportation contributed the majority of the $2.9 million required for the project with the city paying $200,000 to complete funding of the project. City Manager Kim Judge pursued the grant funding in 2019 while she was an assistant city manager.
One of the main drivers behind this project is safety. SH 321 has been difficult for residents who rely on walking to travel to local businesses. Dayton High School students who live within walking distance to their homes are picked by car because of the lack of sidewalks.
“These sidewalks will allow citizens to commute in a safe way,” Judge said. “It will give safe passage for the students at Dayton High School to travel to and from home.”
This is a welcome solution that will not only keep students safe walking but cut down on traffic that occurs at drop-off and pick-up points at the high school.
Construction workers continue to build strategically, shutting down one lane of travel when needed to keep the flow of traffic as smooth as possible. The sidewalks are not just being built on SH 321 but onto the adjacent roads that cross the state highway.
“The project is set to be finished tentatively in January of 2024,” Judge said. “As for the future construction, we are looking into additional ways for transportation – walking, jogging, cycling and the possibility of a trail system.”
These potential additions will make Dayton a more walkable city. Walkscore.com currently gives Dayton, Texas, a walkability score of 68 out of 100 and a bike score of 46 out of 100, making it somewhat walkable/ bikeable. The City of Dayton looks for scores to improve upon completion of the sidewalks.