IN FRANKLIN — Residents of Franklin, the St. Mary Coalition, and the LSU AgCenter joined together to walk a 1.3-mile stretch from the Franklin post office to the local library. From there, they discussed what infrastructure issues they noticed along the way to have a better understanding of what pedestrians face daily. This initiative is to ultimately send an application for a federal grant to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development in hopes of it being approved and aiding in the building of new pedestrian-safe sidewalks.
Jessica Stroope, the Physical Activities Specialist at the LSU AgCenter, works with rural communities just like Franklin to improve walkability in streets and to promote economic development.
"Having a community that's easier to walk in is important not just for the health of residents but also for the economic vitality of communities where it's easy to walk from one place to another," said Stroope. "Places where people wanna spend money, places where people wanna live, and places where neighbors get to know one another. So, we wanna make Franklin a safer place to use a wheelchair and to take your kid out on a walk, to ride a bicycle, or just to be out and about in your community."
Improving and adding ADA accessible sidewalks to the town's streets can be accommodating for wheelchair users in Franklin. With dilapidated sidewalks, it makes it much harder for people with limited mobility and elderly people to get by in their own town.
"Accessibility walkability is major in our city not only for our pedestrians and our community," said Ed Verdin, Public Relations Director. "For those with disabilities and our aging senior population that may have issues traversing our sidewalks."
Those who walk around the city could also face tripping hazards and even injury themselves from the uneven pavement.
Osaria Mouton, who is a resident of Franklin and attended the walk said, "I usually walk around in my neighborhoods and it would be nice to not trip over a sidewalk that's gone a little up over the past few years."
The city of Franklin will be submitting its grant application to the Department of Transportation and Development by the end of the month, and residents' feedback from the walk will be added alongside it.