LOCKWOOD — A 5,100-foot section of sidewalk along the entire length of Becraft Lane in Lockwood was dedicated Tuesday to Dustin Freese, a 16-year-old boy who died after being struck by a car on the road's shoulder in 2013.
"The accident created a sense of urgency for our community and inspired the residents to take action to improve the safety of their community," said Brandy Dangerfield, Lockwood Pedestrian Safety District advisory board chair.
Following Freese's death, in 2014 a group of community members created the pedestrian safety district with the goal to build a community where "people of all ages and ability can travel safely and efficiently without the use of the automobile," Dangerfield said.
“The completion of the Becraft Lane sidewalk is a landmark project for the district. One that will solidify Lockwood’s own plan of action in preventing traffic-related accidents. To honor Dustin and the Freese family, the district is proud to dedicate this segment of the project in his memory," Dangerfield said.
A brown sign bearing Freese's name now hangs over the newly-constructed sidewalk near Beecraft Lane's intersection with Starlight Circle.
The sidewalk is separated from the road by a patch of land about four feet wide. With the section complete, the safety district has now constructed 16,100 feet of paved pedestrian paths.
Nic Talmark, the former chair of the safety district, described how un-walkable the road was before the construction.
“The irony, one day when I was walking on Becraft, cars were going flying by. I thought, ‘well, what if I get run over while knocking on doors trying to make this happen,’ As you can tell, now you feel this separation from the road and how much safer it feels," Talmark said.
The Becraft Lane sidewalk was paid for with help from $300,000 in state grant money from the Montana Department of Transportation given to the district in 2016, according to Dangerfield.
The district levies about $200,000 per year from taxpayers for the improvement of pedestrian infrastructure.