September 25, 2019 - This morning, Mayor Tom Henry joined students, teachers, neighborhood leaders, and City Council members to celebrate the completion of a new sidewalk along St. Joe Center Road connecting eight neighborhoods to St. Joseph Central Elementary School.
This project, a half-mile long sidewalk, connects to the existing walk in the area between Maplecrest and Hazelett roads, and connects the school to 2,000 residents in 952 homes in the area.
The $400,000 improvement is part of the City's efforts to assist students from Fort Wayne Community Schools who are now walking to school due to bus service reductions.
"Providing safe routes for school children is a critical component of our proactive sidewalk initiative. By working together, we're addressing areas within Fort Wayne Community Schools that lack sidewalks," said Mayor Henry. "By having additional sidewalks in our community, we're helping to meet the connectivity needs of schools, residents, and neighborhoods. Investing in sidewalk infrastructure also promotes exercise and other recreational activities and creates better access to local businesses."
Today's celebration is a direct result of the partnership efforts of the Northeast Regional Coordinating Council (NIRCC), Fort Wayne Community Schools and the City's Public Works Division. Collectively, the group works together to coordinate and plan for new sidewalk connections to schools.
"This new sidewalk provides a safe path parallel to St. Joe Center Road for our students and neighboring additions,” said William Critell, Principal of St. Joseph Central Elementary School.
In 2016, Fort Wayne City Council members, Dr. John Crawford, Tom Didier, Tom Freistroffer, Glynn Hines, Geoff Paddock, and Michael Barranda worked with the City Administration and the community and voted to adjust the Local Option Income Tax to fund sidewalk expansions, alley repairs, and riverfront development. In the past three years, ten new sidewalk connections have opened, another seven are under construction, and 24 are under design and will be built in the next few years. In 2019, more than $3.5 million was invested in new sidewalk construction.
"Transportation is more than a road for vehicles. We are making neighborhoods more walkable by adding sidewalks and trails throughout the community," said Shan Gunawardena, Director of the Division of Public Works. "We are committed to continuing to grow our pedestrian network. Walks and trails are essential to strengthening neighborhoods and our City's future."
In the past four years, nearly six miles of new sidewalk have been built to provide safe walking routes to schools. In addition to the school routes, another 16 miles of sidewalk have been built around the community to improve Fort Wayne's walkability. In that same four-year time span, the City has added 16.5 miles of trails.