By MAGGIE MENDERSKI
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
CANTON Mo. -- The city of Canton has received a $232,549 infrastructure grant to improve the sidewalks children use to walk to school.
The Missouri Department of Transportation announced on Monday that Canton will receive the funding through the federal Safe Routes to School program. The new ADA-accessible sidewalks will begin at Seventh and Nesmith and run along Seventh, White, Sixth and Washington streets, and end at the Canton R-V School campus.
Superintendent W.A. Anderson said about a fourth of Canton's students walk to school. The city approached the School Board in October to ask for a letter of support for the grant.
Anderson said Canton Mayor Jarod Phillips pushed for the improvements because many of the sidewalks in town abruptly end, forcing pedestrians to walk on streets.
"We have small enough district that enough of the kids do walk and bike to school," Phillips said. "Anytime you mix bicycles and cars you can have a dangerous situation."
Anderson hopes the city will complete the new sidewalks in time for the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year.
"We're just in the preliminary stages of beginning to be able to wrap our minds around this," Phillips said.
Phillips explained that the new sidewalk routes will allow for safer travel to and from school, as well as connect to several churches and businesses.
"Safety is our No. 1 concern, and we want to keep the kids out of our streets," Anderson said.
The grant is funded through the federal Safe Routes to School program. MoDOT manages Missouri's safe Route to School Program. The money is designated for infrastructure and non-infrastructure projects to benefit elementary and middle school children.