KDOT grant will complete Baldwin City’s Safe Routes to School network

photo by: Elvyn Jones/Journal-World

Baldwin City has received a Kansas Department of Transportation grant that will allow it to construct a sidewalk along 11th Street from U.S. Highway 56 to High Street.

Baldwin City has been awarded another Kansas Department of Transportation grant that will allow it to become the first city in Douglas County to complete its Safe Routes to School network of trails and sidewalks.

Ed Courton, Baldwin City community development director, said the latest KDOT award was a gap grant, which allows the city to target areas of missing sidewalk in its Safe Routes to School network. The most glaring of those gaps is the seven-block stretch along 11th Street from U.S. Highway 56 to High Street that is without sidewalk.

Courton said that with the grant the 11th Street sidewalk would be constructed in 2022. The 5-foot-wide sidewalk will be on the west side of the street. The project will include a retaining wall at the southwest corner of the U.S. 56/11th Street intersection that will prevent the erosion that degrades 11th Street, he said.

KDOT will pay for $620,000 of the $821,000 project, Courton said. As is traditional with such KDOT grants, the city will pay for the project’s design and any utility relocation or easement acquisition required to complete it.

The 11th Street project builds on the Elm Street trail constructed in 2020 on the south side of Elm Street that links the west side of the Baker University campus at Eighth Street to the west Baldwin City school district elementary school campus. That project was also built with a KDOT grant, and the city funded the project that installed sidewalk from the east side of the Baker campus to U.S. 56. A 10-foot-wide multipurpose trail along the Midland Railway easement from U.S. 56 to High Street, which also is being constructed with a KDOT grant, is slated for construction this year.

The new Elm Street sidewalk access currently terminates at the Midland Railway tracks, where barricades went up last month. KDOT ordered the barricades placed for safety reasons. The closing of the crossing prevented pedestrian and bicycle traffic from using the new Elm Street sidewalk to access the school campus or ball fields just to the west of the tracks.

Baldwin City Administrator Glenn Rodden said the planned sidewalk and trail construction would make Baldwin City the first community in the county to complete its Safe Routes to School network.

KDOT plans to address safety concerns at the Midland crossing on Elm Street the week of April 4, Rodden said. The work will include anchoring the concrete slab placed between the rails to prevent it from rocking and install some kind of barrier to ensure motor vehicles don’t use the crossing, he said.


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