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High Point looks to improve sidewalk system

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HIGH POINT, N.C. -- Every day, you can see Pat Dark taking a stroll around his neighborhood in southern High Point off of Brentwood Street.

“This is my portion of what I need to do to maintain my health,” Dark said. Like many people, he’s trying to live healthier, which means he walks about an hour every day, but his daily ritual is anything but leisurely at times.

“We do need more sidewalks out here because to me it’s a safety issue,” Dark said.

High Point has 235 miles of sidewalk, but it doesn’t come close to covering every road.

“I’ve even had a situation where a car come pretty close to hitting me,” Dark said.

So Dark and others are forced at times to walk on the side of the road, or make their own path.

“It’s basically where I’m just walking in people’s yards,” Dark said. “And I’m very conscious about that too.”

The city is finalizing a pedestrian master plan, hoping to present it to city council this February. It highlights 100 areas that could use sidewalk improvements city-wide.

The plan has a method for prioritizing streets based on things like distance to schools, transit hubs, hospitals, libraries, parks and more. It also aims to put sidewalks near areas with high pedestrian accidents and places where paths have been carved out in the grass where people are forced to walk.

“I think they need to have both sides with sidewalks because they don’t have any crosswalks,” said High Point resident Marty Sims.

Sims points out the number of four-lane roads in High Point and how it can be very dangerous to cross at any time of the day.

Sidewalk construction has been an ongoing priority for the city. Three years ago, High Point set aside nearly $1 million for 22 sidewalk projects in areas where they’re needed. Construction for those should kick off this spring.

City council would need to approve funding for any new sidewalk projects moving forward, but now they have a prioritized list to inform those decisions.