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$665K sidewalk effort will make walking to Widmer School safer

Students living in Historic Lathrop and walking to Joseph Widmer Elementary School will soon have a safe route for their daily trek.

More than 18-months after initially approving the engineering work needed to create a sidewalk extension on Warren Avenue from Jasper Street to Reverend Maurice Cotton Drive, the Lathrop City Council took the next step this week in awarding the contract to the firm that will complete the sidewalk extension and the construction of curbs and gutters along the heavily-walked route.

With a previous designation of almost $550,000 to complete the project, the council authorized the release of $133,000 in additional funds that were not included in the budget that will allow for Knife River Construction to begin the process of installing the sidewalk. The additional funding will cover all of the 15 percent construction contingency of $85,498 and close the gap between the money that was already funded and $655,484 project.

Not long after the project received council approval in December of 2018, work began on creating the plans for the revamped route which were completed in May of this year. The project went out to bid later that same month and the city received five completed bid packets ranging from Knife River’s $569,986 to an $805,051 bid that was submitted by Tracy Grading and Paving.

The project is another in a recent string of council decisions to help improve conditions for students that are walking to and from area schools and to maximize safety for pedestrians on city roadways.

Last year the city approved the installation of a lighted crosswalk across Spartan Way to project students that are walking to and from Lathrop High School. The city accepted completion of that project earlier this year, and it became operational before the end of the school year.

The Lathrop council has also had discussions about ways to improve student safety when walking to and from school in the age of the earbud – considering making it a citable offense to walk through a crosswalk near any of the city’s schools while staring a cell phone screen or having something playing in the pedestrian’s ears that could distract them from passing motorists. The council chose not to go that route and instead agreed on an enforcement campaign devoid of any monetary fine to help drive the point home – becoming one of a handful of cities in the country where the use of a cellular phone in a crosswalk is now against the law – following in the footsteps of a Southern California community and the metropolis of Honolulu that issues citations for those who violate the law.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.