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Sidewalk improvements will be made near several Williamsville schools

Construction begins Monday on sidewalk improvements that will target streets and crosswalks near schools in the Village of Williamsville, Mayor Brian J. Kulpa announced Friday.

The sidewalk projects will improve pedestrian safety on 15 streets and 50 crosswalks. In total, one mile of sidewalks will be constructed with much of the work occurring north of Main Street, the mayor said.

“It’s ironic that some of the streets back schools, and in order to get to the school you have to wander out in the road,” Kulpa said. “We preach pedestrian-friendly walkability in the village. For us it is important, but there are other streets besides Main Street we must pay attention to. You don’t want to see kids walking in the middle of the street.”

The $463,000 for the project comes the Department of Transportation’s “Safe Routes to School” program.

The announcement Friday morning was made at a news conference on Stanton Street near the corner of North Ellicott Street in the vicinity of Mill Middle School. Stanton, the northern-most street in the village, will be the first to receive the new sidewalks when construction begins next week.

“In some cases, there is a gap of 4 to five houses and in some cases one side of a street lacks sidewalks,” said Kulpa. “It negatively impacts all pedestrians. You see little kids riding their bikes in the middle of the street because there are no sidewalks,”

The project will markedly increase safety for pre-school children, noted Basil J. Piazza, Williamsville trustee. Currently parents walking with their young children are forced into the streets right next to moving cars, he said.

Williamsville Central Schools has participated in the “Safe Routes” program since 2008, when it collaborated with the Town of Amherst to secure a federal grant to develop a “Kid Corridors Plan” that promotes walking and bicycling to school.

“These improvements will provide a safe place for children to play and get to school, enhance the streetscape in local neighborhoods and continue efforts to promote a pedestrian-friendly village atmosphere,” said Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo. Sidewalk improvements will take place along portions of the following roads: School, North Ellicott, Eagle, Edward, Gordon, Arend, Chalmers, Stanton and North Long streets; Belmont Place; Glen Avenue; Garden Parkway; and Park, Oakgrove and Hirschfield drives.

The work targets the areas surrounding Mill Middle School, Williamsville South High School, Christian Central Academy and SS Peter & Paul School.

Construction will continue through the fall.