By Clay Bailey, CommercialAppeal.com
August 5, 2013

The state Department of Transportation announced Monday that Arlington has received a grant of about $777,500 to extend a network of bicycle paths and sidewalks between three schools in the town.

State Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer came to Arlington Town Hall with a couple of oversized checks to represent the funding boost. Arlington and state officials have worked on the deal for about three years.

“It’s just something else that is going to add to the value of the community,” County Mayor Mark Luttrell said, adding: “It’s a good day for Arlington.”

The state money — in two grants totaling $777,491 — comprises 80 percent of the project. Arlington is responsible for the remaining 20 percent of the work that will provide a 4-foot asphalt bicycle path for riders and an adjacent sidewalk for pedestrians along Collierville-Arlington Road, said Ed Haley, the town’s superintendent.

Part of the overall project, linking Arlington Middle School to Arlington High, was finished in early 2011. That section cost about $450,000 and was funded at the same 80-20 split with the state.

Phase II of the work, connecting Arlington Middle School to Arlington Elementary, is covered by Monday’s funding grant.

The final phase from Arlington Elementary to Arlington High is on the planning board but not funded.

In addition to Arlington Mayor Mike Wissman, Luttrell and Schroer, state Sen. Mark Norris, R-Collierville, and state Rep. Ron Lollar, R-Bartlett, who represent the area and were instrumental in helping secure the grants, also participated in the announcement.

“Kids will be using these (paths) to get to and from school, and it will be safer,” Schroer said. “ … Obviously, the safety of our children is paramount, and getting them to school and back on a safe area is great opportunity. From another side, it’s also great to have an opportunity for kids to ride to school because that makes them healthier and more active, and they can be better learners.”

Norris said he and Lollar were “tickled pink” to be a part of the announcement with Norris adding that “this is important to the town.”

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