Pedestrian bridges enhance walkability

Daily Journal

Walkability is an increasingly valued community asset. It promotes fitness by allowing people to forgo their cars, trucks and SUVs in making short trips or just giving residents the opportunity for a safe neighborhood stroll.

Center Grove area residents will get a boost this spring when two pedestrian bridges become available for use.

The bridges were installed on Brentridge Parkway and along Stones Crossing Road and are the first in the

Center Grove area.

Both bridges were paid for with a statewide grant called the Safe Routes to School program, which helps to build sidewalks, bridges or other structures to allow students, joggers and bicyclists to travel a path separate from cars and trucks. More than $700,000 was awarded to the Johnson County Highway Department and Center Grove Trails through the grant program to construct and install the

two bridges.

While walkers, joggers and bike riders can’t use the bridges just yet, it won’t be long. All that’s left is finishing the sidewalks connecting the bridges to the existing sidewalks on Forest Hills Boulevard and Brentridge Parkway, but work will depend on the weather, county highway engineer Mike Pelham said. Concrete could be poured within the next few weeks but also might not be done until spring, depending on the weather. He said the bridges will remain closed until the project is complete.

When complete, the bridges will create a 2.1-mile loop around the campuses of three Center Grove schools. Students and other pedestrians could use the new path instead of walking along Stones Crossing Road. Currently, pedestrians have to cross a narrow county bridge on Stones Crossing Road that vehicles also use, instead of having

a sidewalk.

The largest bridge is on Stones Crossing Road, creating a path from the Center Grove elementary, middle and

high school buildings to Forest Hills Boulevard in Brentridge Estates.

The other bridge is on Brentridge Parkway, connecting to a new trail that runs behind Center Grove Elementary and follows Morgantown Road to the school.

County commissioners initially applied for the Safe Routes to Schools grant to build a better sidewalk on Smith Valley Road but shifted the project to Stones Crossing and Morgantown roads — both heavily trafficked roads. Center Grove donated some of the land needed for sidewalks.

Though the school district does not have a large number of students who walk to school, the paths will make the walk to and from school and events safer, said Bill Long, assistant superintendent.

Part of the reason students don’t walk to school is the lack of a safe route. By enhancing sidewalks and trails, that easily could change.

As we said, a trail system and good, connected

sidewalks make a community more inviting. We commend these local efforts to create an environment friendlier

to non-motorists.

At issue

A network of trails and sidewalks makes communities more inviting.

Our point

The opening of two pedestrian bridges in the Center Grove area will enhance the area.