Through a $250,000 grant, St. Charles Parish will be able to build a sidewalk on Norcoís heavily traveled 5th Street to keep children safe while they walk to school.
The grant, from the Federal Highway Administration Safe Routes to School Program, covers the cost of the infrastructure improvements. The new sidewalk will extend from Norco 4-6 Elementary along 5th Street to Apple Street.
"Fifth Street is one of the main arteries that the residents use a majority of the time. It houses a Baptist church and three schools," Councilwoman Traci Fletcher said. "If youíve ever been there in the morning or the afternoon, you basically have to jump in a ditch to avoid being hit. (The sidewalk) will enhance the community and the safety of our residents."
Sal Digirolamo, the president of the Norco Civic Association, said the project has been in the works for years.
"In 2006 we found the Safe Routes to School Program and started pursuing that. We had no luck. It wasnít until February of 2008 that we sat down with (Parish President) V.J. (St. Pierre) and (grants officer) Holly (Fonseca) and discussed this and they saw the good of this program," Digirolamo said. "Then the School Board had to come aboard on this because without them we couldnít do it."
School Board Member Jay Robichaux, who lives in Norco, said that 5th Street is a dangerous place for children to walk.
"If youíve ever been on 5th Street either before school or after school it is very dangerous," he said. "I just donít mean the speed of the vehicles, but the crowding of the vehicles and the kids are trying to walk to school."
Construction on the sidewalk should begin in early 2013 and should be completed by mid to late 2013, according to Fonseca.