ABILENE, Texas - The Abilene City Council on Thursday approved partnering with the Texas Department of Transportation on projects to make improvements to South 11th Street.
The Transportation Enhancement Program deals with South 11th Street from South Treadaway Boulevard to Elmwood Street.
South 11th street, like a number of other Abilene streets, is part of the "Safe Routes to School" program. Sidewalks, ramps and bike routes are part of the proposal.
"These are the primary areas that we want to encourage kids to walk or ride their bikes to school," said Ed McRoy, assistant director of Abilene Planning and Development.
Now that the city council has approved the partnership, TxDOT will pay 80 percent of the cost.
"The city wants to move towards providing opportunities for alternative transportation," McRoy said. "There are a number of people in Abilene, for example, that don't have cars."
City officials said when children opt to walk or bike to school it helps keep obesity levels down – and that's not all.
"It reduces congestion on our streets, particularly around elementary and middle schools, which also reduces air pollution, noise pollution and it's actually very safe," said McRoy.
The effort will not create a new lane for bicyclists on South 11th Street. What it will do is add signs to warn drivers that bicyclists are present.
The city hopes that way, drivers will be more aware of their surroundings and people will be encouraged to ride.
"Anytime you can make it easier and safer for kids to go out and ride, yeah we're all for that," said Jim MacDonald, owner of Biketown
Plans for exactly what will be changed on that section of the street will be done in March 2016. City officials said construction on the projects likely won't start until April 2016.
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