Sep. 30—Work continues to extend the sidewalk along Wade Watts Avenue going west down the hill to Strong Boulevard — the second part of a project to extend the sidewalk from the Wade Watts Memorial near the Allford Underpass all the way to the Strong Boulevard-Wade Watts Avenue intersection.
Plans are to complete the project with the extension currently under construction along one of the most heavily-traveled pedestrian paths in the city.
"They're starting at Fifteenth Street and working their way down to Strong Boulevard," said city of McAlester Public Works Director Jeb Jones.
Jones noted the first portion of the sidewalk, which started at near where Wade Watts Avenue, intersects with Kiamichi Drive, was completed last year. When the current sidewalk construction is completed, the two sections will be joined.
"We will have a continuous sidewalk," Jones said.
Construction workers are pushing ahead on the sidewalk construction.
"We're going all the way," said Greg Miller of Bates infrastructure, contractor for the project. Bates figured the project could be finished in a couple of weeks, depending on the weather.
City Manager Pete Stasiak says the project will link two parts of the city.
"It joins the downtown area to the commercial shopping center on the other side of the highway," Stasiak said, referring to the shopping area that includes places such as Tractor Supply and the Walmart Supercenter.
Stasiak noted it will give some of the individuals who work in businesses in that part of McAlester a safer way to walk to work, if they are not driving. It will also benefit other pedestrians walking to the shopping sites as well as those who would like to use the sidewalks for recreational walking or jogging.
Pedestrians have been using the south side and sometimes the north side of land along Wade Watts Avenue as an unofficial route to shopping centers on the city's east side for so long that trails were worn into portions of the path, prior to completion of the sidewalk's first section.
When the two sections are linked, work to make the pedestrian path safer will be complete.
"It's going to give people a safer route, away from the traffic," Stasiak said.
At the construction site, Nicolas Ballesteros and Jaime Fernandez, of NJ Cunados Concrete, walked a framed section of what will be the sidewalk to ensure that everything was ready for concrete to be poured as soon as a truck carrying the next load of concrete arrived on he scene.
They had also worked on the initial section of the sidewalk, when work got underway last October.
As works progresses, city officials are looking forward to the sidewalk's completion.
"I'm anxious to see it finished," said Stasiak. "It's a good project for walkability."
Contact James Beaty at email@example.com.