New sidewalk to protect Monocacy Middle students

Students from Monocacy Middle School walk Monday along the gravel shoulder on the east side of Opossumtown Pike between Hayward and Poole Jones roads. Pending approval, a federal grant of $126,400 would go toward constructing a sidewalk and curb to make the walk safer. (Frederick News-Post/Sam Yu)

A Virginia company will add 1,100 linear feet of sidewalk, curb and gutter near Monocacy Middle School at a cost of $126,400 — pending approval from Frederick County’s Board of Education and the state.

The school board is expected to vote March 27 whether to approve the grant that would allow the bid to be awarded, said Ray Barnes, Frederick County Public Schools’ executive director of facilities services.

The project along Opossumtown Pike, expected to begin this spring and be ready for students next school year, is designed to protect students walking to school. It is being funded by a federal grant administered by the state.

The stretch begins about a block from the school, heading north on Opossumtown along the east side of the road.

About 140 Monocacy Middle students would use the stretch — assuming they walk to school and aren’t driven, Barnes said.

The stretch is essentially a shoulder of Opossumtown covered in gravel, and the shoulder isn’t protected by a curb and is difficult to maintain in snowy or rainy conditions because it can’t be plowed, Barnes said.

“This sidewalk and curbing improvement will not only add to safety, but will make for a drier walk to school, one that has better drainage and is safer for students on bikes,” Barnes said.

Adding the sidewalk provides a layer of safety for students — particularly during snowstorms, said Monica Boyd, president of Monocacy Middle’s Parent Teacher Association.

“The snow is just piled up in that area, and kids have to walk in the street,” she said.

Nearly 175 companies were notified of the sidewalk improvement project. Five submitted bids, including one whose bid was disqualified because it didn’t include the proper paperwork.

The winning bid — from Finley Asphalt & Sealing Inc., of Manassas, Va. — was about $30,000 less than the next lowest bid.

The Frederick County Department of Highways and Transportation, which is working with the school system on the project, has already agreed to the contract amount.

Final approvals from the state are required before construction can begin.

In prior years, a federal grant through the same program was used to make sidewalk improvements at Brunswick High School to connect the school with new residential areas.

Advertiser Content