HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Hattiesburg city and school officials, along with the Mississippi Dept. of Transportation have dedicated a new sidewalk project that they hope will both encourage children to walk to school and keep them safe while doing so.
A ribbon was cut at Rowan Elementary School Wednesday morning to dedicate a Safe Routes to School sidewalk project. That program encourages children to walk or ride their bicycle to school.
A federal grant of $279,570 administered by MDOT funded the project.
The grant paid for work done on Ruby, Cypress and Ashford streets.
"It pays for the curbs, the repairs and improvements to the infrastructure, the striping and the signs and all the other necessities needed in this program for the kids to walk in a safe manner," said Tom King, transportation commissioner for the Southern District.
The City of Hattiesburg was awarded the grant in March of 2009. Ironically, that was the same month that 7-year-old Rowan Elementary School student Ashley Ocain was struck and killed by a car while walking to school.
"It's unfortunate what happened to Ashley...our hearts go out to the family," said Johnny Dupree, mayor of Hattiesburg. "She's constantly on our minds. That's why this is such an important project that we have for all our elementary kids, so that we can make sure that they get to school safely," Dupree said.
Mayor Dupree hopes to receive other grants to place similar sidewalks at all of the city's elementary schools.