This week, one of our team members had the chance to see Bolivar in a whole new light.
Exploring the city’s streets and sidewalks on a hot, humid August morning, it wasn’t a trip for the faint of heart.
The over 4-mile jaunt from the intersection of South Springfield and Aldrich Road to the square — and back again — alongside Bolivar’s own Minda Cox, who is passionate about pedestrian safety after her own close call a few years ago, just about did him in.
Well, at least that’s what he said while cooling off in the newsroom afterward, bottle of water in hand.
Not only did it test his stamina, but it also tested his understanding of what it’s like to navigate Bolivar in someone else’s shoes, or wheels for that matter.
While the pair’s journey through Bolivar this week may have only taken a matter of hours, Cox’s journey to see needed improvements to city sidewalks is taking years.
Rome wasn’t built overnight, and Bolivar’s setup with two state highways as main thoroughfares adds time and red tape to any project along South Springfield Avenue and Broadway Street.
Not to mention the fact that sidewalk repairs can cost a pretty penny.
Public Works Director Jerry Hamby said it costs around $500 in materials at each intersection to make sidewalks ADA compliant.
When you consider just how many intersections and sidewalks need ADA improvements, the overall cost seems staggering.
Thankfully, because this work takes time and money, sidewalk improvements have been on the city’s radar for some time.
In fact, two years ago, Planning and Zoning Director Sydney Allen talked with the BH-FP about commissioning a sidewalk study to determine areas needing better accessibility and connectivity in the city.
As Allen pointed out in 2017, “people want to be in communities where they can walk out their front doors and walk to the stores, walk to a restaurant safely and not have to walk on the side of the road."
And progress has been made.
For instance, since that study, city crews built a sidewalk along South Boston Avenue from West Aldrich Road to San Martin Street, giving pedestrians better access to restaurants and retail locations on the south side of Bolivar.
Hopefully by giving not only pedestrians — but also the city and MoDOT — a wide berth and room to move, we’ll keep folks safe and see more improvements in the coming years.