One of the most heavily-walked pedestrian paths in McAlester is getting a sidewalk.

Work is underway to construct the first phase of the new four-feet wide sidewalk on the north side of Wade Watts Avenue.

It begins at the service road adjacent to the west side of the George Nigh Expressway near the Wade Watts Memorial, then will extend west to the top of the hill near the Oklahoma Works American Job Center at 1414 E. Wade Watts Ave. It will cover 1,834 linear feet when complete.

Pedestrians have been using the north side of Wade Watts Avenue as an unofficial route to the shopping centers on the east side of the city for so long that trails have been worn into parts of the pathway.

On Monday, Kindell Trickett, of Bates Instrumentation, operated heavy equipment to dig out dirt and rocks where  the projected sidewalk will begin its uphill climb. Caleb Mitchell measured the area to be excavated on the north side of Wade Watts Avenue, across the street from the Kiamichi Technology Center.

Jaime Fernandez and Nicolas Ballesteros, of NJ Cunados Concrete, checked out part of the new sidewalk that's already been poured. They expected more to be poured Tuesday.

Mayor John Browne is glad to see work begin on the new sidewalk, with the idea of making things safer and more convenient for pedestrians.

"There is actually a lot of foot traffic with people walking to the Dollar General Store and Walmart shopping centers," Browne said. "For people who are walking, it will be safer."

"Everything that improves the walkability of the city improves the city," Browne said. When it's easier to get around by walking, people tend to walk more, which has the benefit of improving the health of city residents, he said.

City Manager Pete Stasiak said the new sidewalk will make it easier for some workers to get to their jobs in the shopping centers.

"We've got a lot of people walking along Wade Watts to get to their work," Stasiak said.

City planners have the goal of eventually having a second phase of the sidewalk. If approved, it would begin where the sidewalk currently under construction ends in the area of Fourteenth Street and would extend west to Strong Boulevard.

McAlester city councilors passed a measure approving the first phase of the Wade Watts Avenue sidewalk by a 6-to-1 margin during their Sept. 18 meeting, giving Mayor John Browne approval to sign the contract for the project. The city council awarded the $91,248 bid to Bates Instrumentation, LLC.

The contract includes more than sidewalk construction. It also includes:

• ADA-compliant ramps. 

• Tactile warning devices, which consist of cone or dome-shaped areas that are raised above the surface and and can be detected by a cane or by stepping on them to alert the vision-impaired they are nearing streets or other hazards related  to a change in grade or surface.

• Crosswalk signs

• Forty traffic strips, 24 inches wide, consisting of multi-polymer, 24 inches wide, for continental crosswalks, also known as zebra-striped crosswalks.

• Twenty traffic strips,  consisting of four-inch wide polymer.

• Retaining walls where needed.

• Concrete flumes

• Modification of outstanding concrete junction box.

• Concrete junction area inlet box.

• 18-inch storm drain lines.

• Solid slab sod; 1,225 units.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

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