Sidewalks may not seem like something to get excited about, but for residents along northeast U.S. 15-501, the installation of a 5-foot sidewalk from north of Manns Chapel Road to just south of the Orange County line is a very positive event.

Last spring, the County received $245,255 in federal stimulus funds from the Durham-Chapel-Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization, and has been working on the engineer/design phase of the project since.

The sidewalk installation officially broke ground today, and is being implemented by White Oak Construction Corporation, based in New Hill, with a contract end-date of June 15.

There are no sidewalks on U.S. 15-501 heading south of the Orange County line. Foot traffic along the four-lane highway at the congested intersection of U.S. 15-501 and Manns Chapel Road has increased in the past five years with the addition of a Chapel Hill Transit Park & Ride lot. which forces many commuters traversing to the bus stop to walk along the highway in grass and mud.

The mile-long sidewalk will connect the Cole Park shopping center and the UNC Park & Ride Lot at Old Lystra Road. According to Chatham County planner Benjamin Howell, ‘All businesses will remain open during the construction process and will have at least one entry point open for customers at all times.” County residents can hope that this one sidewalk will spawn additional sidewalks along the U.S. 15-501 corridor, encouraging walkability and connecting neighbor-to-neighbor, county-to-county.