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Posted: November 16, 2010 8:52 p.m.

County seeking trail, sidewalk grants

The Newton County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved two pedestrian-friendly grants Tuesday night, one for a trail in Porterdale and the other for sidewalks and street crossings to allow students to walk or bike to school.

The county is seeking a $100,000 grant from the Department of Natural Resources to build a 2,000 foot section of trail that would connect downtown Porterdale to an existing section of trail loop located with the Porterdale Yellow River Park. The trail would extend from the Porterdale Depot up Hemlock Alley to the Yellow River Park. The trail would also connect to the Turkey Creek trail, which will be built from Turner Lake Park to Porterdale during 2011.

The county and Porterdale would each have to contribute $12,500 in cash or in-kind services to the project, according to a memo from Cheryl Delk, county special projects coordinator. Porterdale would assume maintenance for the trail. If the county paid cash, the money would come from the general fund, Administrative Assistant John Middleton said.

Also, Kathy Garber, grant coordinator for the Newton County School System, presented a $316,700 grant application for the federal Safe Routes to School program. No local money would have to be contributed.

The program is designed to help children travel to nearby schools by walking or riding their bike, thereby fighting child obesity, reducing pollution and reducing busing costs for schools.

If the county and school system get the $316,700 grant, it would be used to build 14,460 linear feet of sidewalks, 15 pedestrian crossings, three in-road warning light system crosswalks, five 20-bike bicycle racks and six stop-for-pedestrian signs.

The infrastructure would be placed on Brown Bridge Road for students at West Newton Elementary and Veterans Memorial Middle schools; Fairview Road for students at Fairview Elementary and Clements Middle schools; and Kirkland Road for students at Live Oak Elementary School. Each of the three roads are high-traffic roads and dangerous to cross, and each of the five schools have a large number of students living within two miles of the school. A total 2,597 students live within two miles of one of the five schools.

The grant recipients will be announced in March 2011. A school system in each U.S. Congressional District receives one grant. Newton County falls into the 8th congressional district, which extends south to Macon.


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