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Pedestrians await safe path to connect North Main Street, Love Shop businesses

North Main Street resident Breedlove Ford likes to walk, but he can only do so safely for a small distance beyond the busy intersection of North Main Street and Hamilton Boulevard in South Boston.

That’s where the sidewalk ends, with pedestrians having to walk along the narrow shoulder of the much-traveled Halifax Road to get to Halifax County High School and the businesses located in that area.  

A sidewalk would greatly improve pedestrian safety, and that’s why Ford and his neighbors applaud South Boston Town Council’s passage of a resolution last week requesting the Virginia Department of Transportation establish an urban project and allocate funding to build a sidewalk along North Main Street from Hamilton Boulevard to Halifax County High School.

“I love to walk, I’m into recreation, and when the sidewalk stops, that brings everything to an end,” said Breedlove on Tuesday. “After people start walking, they realized we need it for safety reasons.”

School children walk along the side of the road, and Ford has seen walkers, runners and residents walking their dogs along the narrow shoulders of North Main Street.

Ford said he and area resident Leon Brade were thinking of how the corridor could be made safer for pedestrians, and a sidewalk naturally came to mind.

It would serve as a bridge from that community to the retail businesses located a little more than one mile away, Ford explained.

A lot is going on along and near the North Main Street corridor, with the ongoing Washington-Coleman Community Center project and the proposed Washington-Coleman Cottage District nearby.

A sidewalk would improve mobility throughout the area, Ford added.

“The traffic on North Main up to Walmart and the high school is definitely thick. People are walking in pairs, and they are walking their dogs, and when you come back this way, you’ve got to get over on the other side and run with the traffic or maybe against the traffic.

“It’s safety, that’s the key, and a genuine effort to put the sidewalk there would be fantastic, great, and that’s what I was discussing with my friend, so let’s see how it comes out,” Breedlove said. 

The issue of not having a sidewalk to Love Shop is a recurring problem in the course of discussing Hamilton Boulevard improvements, South Boston Town Manager Ted Daniel said during last week’s council work session.

Urban construction money is available through VDOT to build the sidewalk, Daniel added.

Using a 10-foot right-of-way, the sidewalk would meander along North Main Street, with homeowners granting easements to allow a paved path through their front yards, the town manager explained.

The proposed sidewalk would connect with the sidewalk in front of Halifax County High School, with a crosswalk constructed as part of the project.

VDOT will pay the lion’s share of the cost of a preliminary engineering study, right-of-way and construction of the sidewalk, with the town ultimately responsible for 2 percent of the total cost of the project.

The question remains which side of the street will have the sidewalk, and the engineering study will help address that issue.

The resolution only authorizes VDOT to perform the engineering study.