LOCKWOOD — The Lockwood community broke ground Friday to make a busy road safer for pedestrians.
Shovels scooped dirt from the ground in a groundbreaking ceremony in Lockwood, marking the beginning of the construction of a new sidewalk. That sidewalk was designed to protect pedestrians walking along the same stretch of road where 16-year-old Dustin Freese died nearly six years ago.
On Jan. 4, 2013, Freese and a friend were walking on a snowy night along Becraft Lane when he was struck and killed by a pickup truck. Since then, the community has engaged in a massive push to give that area sidewalks.
Nic Talmark, chairman of the Lockwood Pedestrian Safety Group and neighbor to the Freese family, says this particular project is a culmination of what spearheaded the creation of the group and Dustin Freese's death was the final catalyst.
"The project itself, probably along one of the busiest roads in Lockwood. Because of Dustin and because of the people who use it and neighborhoods that connect the... town center of Lockwood, this is just a pinnacle project," he said.
The new sidewalk, measuring about 5,100 feet, will start at Old Hardin Road and stretch the length of Becraft Lane.
"The sidewalk will be built as a boulevard sidewalk. Everything that is Becraft will be boulevard sidewalk will keep kids on the path and on the sidewalk," said Talmark. "We also have maintenance and snow plowing included in our district fund to make sure that is clear in the winter time so if it does get covered with snow its cleared quickly.
According to Talmark, data shows that only 2 percent of Lockwood consists of sidewalks. As of four years ago there have been two deaths and 12 injuries for pedestrians.
Lockwood schools Superintendent Tobin Novasio says the new sidewalk will help kids have more opportunity to get active.
"The efforts of this committee and the community to try and make the community are huge in terms of those type of things as far as kids going out and being able to socialize," said Novasio. "I think all of us as parents and teachers talk about how kids are so hooked on the video games and we want them to get outside and get active. And in Lockwood they just don't have the opportunity to even get to the park or to the school to do those kinds of things. That's a challenge sometimes."