ALLENSTOWN — Officials in Allenstown plan to make walking safer for local students while simultaneously providing a pedestrian pathway from the town's main business district to roughly a fifth of the community's population.
Through a $405,000 Safe Routes to School Grant provided by the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, the Granite Street sidewalk, which currently ends behind Olympus Pizza, will soon extend more than 1,000 feet, running past the Allenstown Police Department, across Route 3 and then behind the Bi-Wise Market to the intersection of Chester Turnpike and then ending at Holiday Acres at Parkwood Drive.
Town Administrator Shaun Mulholland said the grant funding provides for all engineering and construction costs associated with the project, which is intended to create a safe walkway from Holiday Acres to the downtown area sidewalk network where Allenstown Elementary School and Armand R. Dupont School are located.
"That's a big step forward for us in allowing pedestrian access to and from our schools and the town's business area as well," said Mulholland. "Right now, the idea of people crossing Route 3 is a frightening prospect. It's very dangerous without any signals."
A public hearing on the project has been scheduled for Monday at 6:30 p.m. Engineers from Haight Engineering, with whom the town has contracted for preliminary engineering of the project, will be in attendance to present the various construction possibilities.
"We're looking to take input on the different options, in terms of exactly where the sidewalk should be located, and we're hoping to hear from both the property owners (that will be impacted), as well as any members of the public who may be interested," said Mulholland.
Though the first phase of the project, which constructed roughly 600 feet of sidewalk along the westside of Main Street, took nearly five years to complete, Mulholland said he's hopeful the current task is handled with greater expediency.
"If all goes as planned, we're hoping to get this going sometime next year," he said. "It's possible it could happen this year, but that may be a little optimistic."
The first phase cost roughly $178,000 in grants, but the current proposal is more expensive due to increased length of the sidewalk, as well as the cost to install crossing signals at the busy intersection of Route 3 and Granite Street.