Transportation Alternatives Grant: Oregon Street Sidewalk Project aims to protect, educate
On Oct. 6, Governor Laura Kelly announced the recipients of the Transportation Alternatives program project grants. Among the 32 grants received across Kansas was Sabetha’s Oregon Street Sidewalk Project. The city of Sabetha was awarded $533,400 toward renovating the sidewalk along Oregon Street that connects the schools to the wellness center and hospital. The City of Sabetha will need to contribute 20 percent.
The objective of the grant is to provide safe passage for not only K-12 students of Sabetha schools, but for all pedestrians who use this highly trafficked road that connects the east and west sides of town.
Several people came together to get this project underway, but none more than former educator and long time Sabetha citizen Marvin Kohlmeier. He worked with the City of Sabetha, who agreed to go forward with the grant application and spoke to the school board, among others, to get their support.
“Oregon Street is a very heavily traveled street for many reasons. First of course is because it is the route to all the schools — elementary, middle and high school. It is also an easy access route to our only grocery store, to old Highway 75, to Highway 75 by-pass, and to three of our gas stations, our lumber yard, several eating establishments, some shopping, etc,” Kohlmeier said.
Kohlmeier has a unique perspective of the sidewalk and street that leads so many little lives to school and back home every day. He has lived in Sabetha near Oregon Street for 45 years and is a first-hand witness to the dangers of this main thoroughfare through town.
“Our middle daughter, Kam, was struck by a vehicle on her way home from the elementary school toward 11th street,” Kohlmeier said. “She was very fortunate, although she had a concussion, her skull was lacerated and you could see her artery pulsating — it did not rupture!”
Kohlmeier is looking forward to the sidewalk being smooth and wider for the children and other pedestrians who use the sidewalk.
“The current sidewalk was built decades ago and is very narrow, bordering this busy street with a very low curb, and as I mentioned, a high flow of traffic,” Kohlmeier said. “Much of the sidewalk is also in disrepair with tree roots uprooting the sidewalk and causing the children to walk or ride their bikes in the street to bypass the broken or uprooted area.”
Kohlmeier explained how the children enjoy walking in clusters of three or more, not walking in single file lines. They enjoy the company of their friends beside them as they walk or run along, either heading to or from school, or to or from the pool in the summertime.
Bridge and Historical Markers
Another element of the sidewalk that will be renovated is the bridge that crosses over the creek at about fourth and Oregon, which the Greater Sabetha Community Foundation (GSCF) is interested in raising funds for.
“The Greater Sabetha Community Foundation has agreed to help sponsor the bridge passageway over the creek as a partial funding endeavor in creating the safe sidewalk,” Kohlmeier said.
In addition to the bridge, GSCF would also like to see historical markers placed along the sidewalk that tell the history of Sabetha. Kohlmeier believes this would help create an educational and historical appreciation for our community. Kohlmeier has recruited Lillian Rokey to help develop the signs and hopes to see the Sabetha students get involved in the project as well.
“Lillian Rokey, who has a degree in creative writing and anthropology, has agreed to partner with our three schools in developing signage describing historical events, such as the underground railroad, pony express, the founding town of Albany, Wenger Manufacturing, the historical original Sabetha High School, the hospital and numerous other historical locations in the city of Sabetha,” Kohlmeier said.
The “Oregon Street Historical Walkway Project” has been included as one of the funds you may donate to in the Give to Grow Match Day to be held Nov. 18-21.
Although plans have been set in motion, the actual construction of the new sidewalk along Oregon Street will not start until the spring of 2024 and is given a few months to complete.
“It will probably not go to bid until next fall, and then I’m guessing they’ll be able to begin construction a year from this coming spring and finish in three to four months,” said City Administrator Doug Allen.