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News covering policy and issues related to city and county governments in the Ozarks.

The Link Projects Expected to Improve Pedestrian Safety

Parts of Springfield just got a little easier to maneuver for pedestrians and bicyclists.  The city will hold a dedication tomorrow (5/8) for The Link crossing east of Kimbrough on Sunset, featuring a High Intensity Activated Crosswalk signal, and a ribbon cutting for an underpass under the Chestnut Expressway viaduct.

The Link is a network of roadways in Springfield with low traffic volume and slower speeds that will have an accessible route for pedestrians and low stress bicycling, according to David Hutchison, pedestrian and bicycle engineer for the city.

The $200,000 two-pronged project included the design and construction of an accessible walk and bike path along Kimbrough south of Sunset to a crosswalk on Sunset with the HAWK signal and a path connecting to the South Creek Greenway Trail. 

"When a motorist sees it, it is dark until somebody that is crossing the crosswalk pushes the button at which time it will begin flashing yellow and then it will go to solid yellow and then it will go to solid red as a walk light goes on for the crosswalk," David Hutchison said.

When alternating red lights begin flashing for motorists, they must come to a full stop but can proceed if the crosswalk is clear. According to Hutchison, the HAWK signal has been used extensively in the western U.S. to improve pedestrian safety.  He believes it's the 14th in the state of Missouri.

Hutchison said the project also included a new accessible walk and bike path under Chestnut Expressway connecting Chestnut St. to Sherman Ave. He hopes the improvements and others planned for the future will encourage people to drive less.

"Many of the trips that we make are a half mile or so in length, and if there is a way that a person feels that it's comfortable and enjoyable to walk or bicycle that trip, they're more likely to do so," he said.

He said that results in a more active community and decreased rates of chronic illness as well as a cleaner environment

The latest projects were funded with the 1/8 cent Transportation Sales Tax. 

Hutchison said the city will continue to work to improve other crossings where The Link connects busy streets.  And The Link is expanding.  According to Hutchison, the Ward Branch Greenway Trail will be a part of The Link in the next couple of year.  A piece of that trail was constructed last summer and goes under James River Freeway.  With a project on Republic Rd. underway now, he said, the trail will go under Republic Rd.  According to Hutchison, there is a biking route from where The Link ends at Battlefield Rd. to the underpass beneath the James River Freeway.

The dedication for the new pedestrian crossings starts at 3 pm tomorrow at the HAWK signal on Sunset near Kimbrough.  Around 4, a group of bicyclists will ride from that crossing to the underpass beneath Chestnut Expressway where they’ll tear through a ribbon.

Ozark Greenways encourages residents to use the routes available via The Link’s eight-mile north-south bike/walk corridor connecting Doling Park to CoxSouth during Bike to Work Week next week.

Michele Skalicky has worked at KSMU since the station occupied the old white house at National and Grand. She enjoys working on both the announcing side and in news and has been the recipient of statewide and national awards for news reporting. She likes to tell stories that make a difference. Michele enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and leisurely kayaking.