Lynchburg, VA - If you like to walk while you shop, Wards Road in Lynchburg is more walker friendly than it once was. The city is busy putting the finishing touches on new sidewalks and lighting along one stretch. It's all part of a $2 million dollar project, and there's even more work coming in the future.
The project has really cleaned up the stretch of Wards near WalMart and Sam's Club and also made it safer. City planners say Wards was first built for vehicles. Now, it's getting revamped for walkers and bikers too.
Lynchburg City clocked over a three-day period, 600 people dodging traffic to cross Wards Road. Shopping on Wards on your own two feet, instead of in your car, was risky. Not anymore. City Planner Tom Martin says the brand new sidewalks make walking safer and also help business.
"The main point of doing all this was for student safety. But, also economic development, making it easier for the students to get to and from the retailers on Wards Road," said Martin.
"I think that the city did a wonderful thing," said Erica Yeung, LU Senior.
Erica Yeung is a Liberty University Senior. She says the new infrastructure connects students from campus and restaurants on Wards better than ever before.
"It encourages you to get out of your dorm, because, if not, you would just eat macaroni and cheese in your cupboard," said Yeung.
Jimmy Vitale manages Vinny's Pizza on Wards. He's accepting more Flames Cash this year. To him, it's a sign LU students feel safer eating along Wards.
"The improvements have definitely made it easier for them to get over here," said Vitale.
And there's more curbing to come. The goal: Walk from Wards Ferry Road to Central Virginia Community College faster and safer than before.
"I think it's been very positive and positively received so far," said Martin.
The goal is to have all curbing done by next year. City planners say the project is a great example of a public-private partnership. They credit Sam's Club, WalMart and Montview Commons for making this possible.