City seeks sidewalk grants for schools

Big Ridge Elementary on the priority list

For some of the children of Big Ridge Elementary School, the walk from home to school means a trek in the mud alongside the road.

But a potential grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation could change all that — it’d add $250,000 worth of sidewalks linking the surrounding neighborhood and school. The city of Chattanooga applied for TDOT’s Safe Routes to Schools grant and stands to improve the surrounding areas of three city schools if awarded the grant next fall.

“Big Ridge Elementary is close to the North Chickamauga Greenway, and we want to be able to open up that area,” said Blythe Bailey, director of transportation for the city of Chattanooga.

Lakeside Academy and Woodmore Elementary were also chosen as top priority schools from a list formed by the Activate Chattanooga Coalition that identified infrastructure needs to enhance the area.

“Looking at the viability of [adding sidewalks] and how nearby neighborhoods are and what we could connect with small improvements was important to look at,” Bailey said. “Are they high-traffic streets that need a pedestrian crosswalk? How can we fill in with simple infrastructure to help accommodate more people?”

Beyond just the physical improvements to the infrastructure, he said the grant additionally includes money for educational programming.

“We want to be able to teach kids how to walk or bike to school safely,” he said.