Poland students to benefit from sidewalks

By Ashley Luthern



A long-awaited sidewalk project on state Route 170 finally will become a reality.

The Ohio Department of Transportation announced Wednesday the awarding of $16 million in anticipated federal transportation funds for 68 projects through the Safe Routes to School Program. These awards make up the highest amount of funding the program has ever distributed at one time, according to an ODOT news release.

Three local areas are benefiting from the program. Lowellville will receive $442,000 to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety on Walnut Street and at the state Route 289 and Wood Street intersection. Liberty will receive $490,000 to provide pedestrian facilities and signals at unspecified locations.

The largest local award is $500,000 to Poland Township to build a sidewalk on the east side of state Route 170 that runs parallel to 170 from about Nesbitt Street in Poland Village to Dobbins Road, home to Dobbins Elementary and Poland Seminary High School.

This is the third time the township has applied for grants to fund the sidewalk project, said Trustee Robert J. Lidle Jr.

The first time, the township received $24,000 from ODOT to enhance the proposal. After two years of revising and clarifying the project proposal, the township secured the $500,000 to fully fund the sidewalk. No local match dollars are required.

“We’re not just doing a pathway that will take students to a school; we’re connecting an entire school district with this project. Sidewalks already lead to North Elementary and then Union and as well as McKinley and the Middle School,” Lidle said. Superintendent Robert Zorn said the district supported the project, and the sidewalk will help not only students get to school, but also after-school activities.

“One of the things that I was interested in was Poland’s tradition of walking to football games. ... There are a significant number of people who would use it. ... And I always worried about was kids walking down 170, and then you see the semi-trucks go by. The project’s a real plus,” he said.

Lidle said the township has a deadline of fiscal year 2015 for completing the project. Officials are preparing to meet with ODOT to discuss engineering and environmental concerns. He said construction is set to begin in spring 2013.

“When I first ran for office back in 2001, I made only one promise: that I would do everything done to get this one project done. ... I’m glad it’s finally becoming a reality, and it’s not something I did by myself,” Lidle said.

He said Wednesday’s announcement resulted from a combined effort of past and current township, village and school officials and employees.

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