The city of Laurinburg is attempting to address pedestrian safety concerns on West Church Street near Scotland High School by improving sidewalk access.
As a high foot and automobile traffic location the Church Street area between the Hess/Wilco service station and the high school, and the area from the high school down to the city limits is in need of better sidewalks, pedestrian crossings and signage, said City Manager Ed Burchins.
“We have been working with the (state Department of Transportation) on a plan for new sidewalks and to enhance pedestrian safety,” Burchins said.
According to Burchins, that will include “clearly marked, dedicated walking and crossing zones along with modern signage that meets all current requirements.”
“Why not go all the way to the city limits,” asked council member Mary Jo Adams, pushing an expansion of the planning to include safe passage for walking students and others all the way into Laurinburg.
Burchins said that the Department of Transportation is prepared to join the city in the project with an 80-percent to 20-percent split for the cost of sidewalks as well as curbing, guttering and access ramps.
“We would pay up front 100-percent and they would reimburse 80-percent,” Burchins said.
Praising the environmentally friendly potential of improved sidewalk access throughout the city, Councilman Kenton Spencer said that the project was “certain worthwhile.”
“In principle (the sidewalk project) would lead to a greener, safer city,” Spencer said.
Concerned that fair and equal attention be given to sidewalk needs throughout the city, Councilman Curtis Leak encouraged council to “take an assessment of all sidewalks in the city.”
Safety concerns were also expressed about the nearby highway overpass, where Burchins said a pedestrian was nearly struck by a car earlier this year.
Council also agreed to allow Burchins to continue investigating the expansion of fiber optics in the city with a mind toward developing its broadband infrastructure.
Such an infrastructure investment could create a major profit source for the city if the projections of McGavran Engineering of Charlotte are correct.
Representatives of McGavran updated the city on the status of its broadband fiber system, which was first installed about 20 years ago.
“You all have a great base to build on here,” the McGavran representative told the board.
If the city agrees to enhance its connection to “the outside world” it could lead to networking and Internet access that would rival the access on offer in large municipalities.
Mayor Tommy Parker told council that the broadband service has the potential to allow for a future wireless hot spot down town. Parker said that a number if citizens reported interest in such a service.
“We have a leg up and this is the opportunity to strike,” said Councilman Drew Williamson of the fact that Laurinburg does not fall under the same regulatory requirements placed on many cities because of its grandfathered status with current broadband legislation.
Ideally Laurinburg could sell its broadband access to area businesses and even, potentially, to cable/Internet companies.