For many of us, driving down South Main Street has become a cluttered mess of traffic cones and confused drivers. The construction is nothing shy of needed changes to the community.
As you are driving down Main Street, you may have noticed the beginning of future sidewalks, shared-use lanes and street lights in the works. These sidewalks are going to provide safer transportation for those without vehicles or who prefer to walk.
Currently, we are seeing people maneuver through traffic cones and moving vehicles, trekking in snow and mud to get places around town. The sidewalks will not only benefit those walking, but the drivers as well, but the importance of adding sidewalks doesn’t end on Main Street.
With the construction on the main road, side and residential roads have seen an increase of usage. Many of these roads either don’t have sidewalks or the sidewalks are not in good condition. This is not something people even consider when they’re driving. If someone is seen walking in the road rather than the sidewalk next to them, they’re seen as an inconvenience when they’re trying to safely get from point A to point B.
For many college students, walking to campus is a daily routine, and for those in Maryville without vehicles, walking or biking is a main form of transportation. Though it isn’t the main form of transportation for residents, this doesn’t mean the sidewalks shouldn’t be a priority for improvements throughout the town.
Current sidewalks throughout Maryville are either covered in weeds and grass or are breaking into pieces, sinking into the ground, making them hard to walk on. The overgrown and sunken areas pose issues for people using wheelchairs, strollers, bikes and skateboards. For people with accessibility issues, these sidewalks are unusable.
The upkeep of sidewalks in town have been neglected for years. The point of these sidewalks is to keep people safe by keeping them from walking on the streets. Without maintenance being done, the sidewalks are not being used for their intended purposes — or in general.
While walking down these sidewalks, people are constantly having to look at the ground, unable to keep an eye on their surroundings. Not only is it a safety hazard for falling, but they can’t watch what is going on around them.
Even for people driving through town, it’s common to look out your window and find someone walking to their destination. The sidewalks are not only an issue for those using it, but the people driving as well.
With sidewalks being unusable, people are having to dodge cars while walking on the road. Not only would the sidewalk improvement be beneficial for the people using them, but for all drivers.
For some students, driving isn’t an option. International students attending Northwest have many different rules they need to follow to get a driver’s license. Even after getting a driver’s license, buying a car may not be in their budget or may be difficult to do. For these students and many others, driving is not an option, making sidewalks more important.
The addition of more sidewalks, on top of maintaining the existing ones, is imperative to reassuring that Maryville is walkable. The Editorial Board, and all of Maryville residents, have witnessed the struggle. With fixing the sidewalks, the safety of pedestrians should be the main focus.
We recognize this isn’t something that can be changed overnight. It takes funds and manual labor to build new sidewalks, especially to continue maintenance on them. Though it will take time for this change, it not only impacts current residents, but future students and families as well.