Sumter, SC (WLTX) -- The City of Sumter got a $400,000 grant from the US Department of Transportation on Wednesday, a city official said.
It's part of what's called the "Safe Routes to School Program." Now, the city will start looking at how to improve the roads and sidewalks near Crosswell Drive Elementary School in Sumter.
How dangerous can the area around Crosswell Elementary be?
Sumter Police told News19 they have been paying special attention to the area for a few years now, and that has included extra personnel and even traffic controls as some neighbors say the streets have become unsafe.
"I think we need some new roads through here," said James Ricks, a neighborhood resident who said he had been living there for the past 30 years. "It's kind of bad for me to drive around on the roads, especially when you get to some turns. Some roads are a little better than others."
It's easy to tell just by looking that the roads and sidewalks near the school are falling apart.
Nate Witherspoon lives around the corner from the school, and four of his kids attend. However, Witherspoon chooses to drive his kids to school every day, saying the conditions are too dangerous.
"(Drivers) be (sic) speeding through here, and there's no sidewalks," Witherspoon said. "Kids got to walk in the street, and cars fly by here pretty fast, you know rush hour's in the morning."
The infrastructural issues seen near Crosswell are not new to the City of Sumter. A project was started years ago for upgrades near Willow Drive Elementary, according to Senior Transportation Planner for the Sumter Planning Depart, Allan Yu.
Federal grant money helped get the ball rolling then, and the city's Planning Department is again using federal money for Crosswell improvements, too.
"Safety for school children is one of the top priorities for the City of Sumter," Yu said. "Crosswell Elementary is awarded a $400,000 grant, and the next step is we have to form a committee."
Yu said that committee would most likely be composed of Crosswell's Principal, Anne Mcfadden, and PTA members, and city officials.
The grant comes after from a step in the application process requiring a SCDOT traffic study, which happened in March, said Yu.
Just 10 projects in the state are being federally funded under the program out of 20 applicants, according to Yu, who also said most of the Crosswell money, about 80 percent, will go toward infrastructure.
"We can put a flashing red light next to the existing traffic light, so when the lights turn red, the red light will keep flashing," Yu said of one of the city's ideas for improvement.
Another idea the Yu said the city has for improvement is possibly looking at safety for bicycle traffic in the area.
They may also send crossing guards to training.
The city planning department will be looking at putting concrete plans together over the next school year.