LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - A huge project bringing more sidewalks to Lawton's east side is now nearly complete.
The project put in a sidewalk from the Lawton-Fort Sill Veterans Center on Flower Mound, all the way over to Gore Boulevard. It also added a sidewalk down Gore Boulevard up to the restaurants across from the Apache Casino, like Sonic, Braums and Los Tres Amigos.
The project has been in the works for several months and has been spearheaded by Ward 4 Councilman Jay Burk. He said he knew a sidewalk was needed in that area, but after talking to people who walk, bike and use their wheelchairs down Gore Boulevard every day, he knew they needed it sooner rather than later.
Burk said the need for sidewalks in Lawton is a well-known problem.
"As we've all said, we need them everywhere but we had to start somewhere. This was a very high profile needed area so we're very happy were finally coming to almost completing now," Burk said.
Burk said the idea to build a new sidewalk on the east side really gained steam when he met with leaders at the Lawton-Fort Sill Veterans Center. They told him how big of a need there was for a sidewalk connecting their residents to the restaurants on Gore. He said in the weeks after that, he had several conversations that made him realize it was more than just the veterans center residents who needed the sidewalks.
"We had a lot of young people that rode bikes to work down Gore and Gore doesn't have any kind of side path, there's just a curb. If somebody hits you, we've had a few of those incidents where someone is hit by a car with mirrors and things because it is just two lanes and that's it," Burk said.
The project is nearly complete and cost approximately $140,000. About half of that money came through Capital Improvement Project funding.
"$70,000 of it is coming from the CIP for accessibility, the City of Lawton CIP for accessibility that voters voted on," said City of Lawton Director of Field Utilities Rusty Whisenhunt.
The other half of the money was raised thanks to the generosity of the community.
"We've probably had close to $70,000 or $80,000 worth of private donations so far that have gotten us to be able to go ahead with the project," Burk said.
The city has a way that you can get involved with the funding as you can buy a personalized brick to be put in the sidewalk near the veteran's center.
"People can put names of family members, whatever they want. It doesn't have to be a veteran but a lot of veteran's families are buying the bricks and having them engraved," Burk said.
Those bricks are being sold through the Lawton Enhancement Trust Authority and Burk said the money will be used to maintain the sidewalks around Gore and Flower Mound and even build more sidewalks in the area.
If you want to have one of those bricks engraved but don't know anyone whose name you'd like on it, Burk said you can sponsor a veteran at the veteran's center who may not have the money or family in the area to put their name on a brick.