More than two years after a delivery truck hit and killed two children on West Tyvola Road in west Charlotte, a sidewalk stretching along the road was dedicated Tuesday.
In February 2012, 5-year-old Kadrien Pendergrass and his 1-year-old brother Jeremy Brewton were walking on the road at the intersection of Shady Lane with their father, Jeremy Brewton. They were hit by a truck while walking to a nearby day care.
At the time, there wasn’t a connected sidewalk for Brewton and his children to walk on.
“Our hearts are extremely heavy from the tragedy that took place in 2012,” Charlotte City Council member LaWana Mayfield said at the ceremony.
Mayfield spoke from a lectern close to where the two boys were killed. A few feet away stood a memorial made of weathered teddy bears and white crosses decorated with flowers.
Now the corners of West Tyvola and Shady Lane are paved with sidewalk. On the northwest side of West Tyvola, a sidewalk runs from Old Steele Creek Road to West Boulevard.
At the time of the accident, the West Tyvola sidewalk project was near the top of a list of unfunded projects. A month later, the city moved West Tyvola to the top of the list when a Statesville Road widening project came in $6 million under budget.
In May 2013, the city decided to speed up the project even more after questions were raised about the pace of the project. In January of this year, the city awarded a roughly $344,000 contract, and construction began on the one-third-mile sidewalk in April.
Typically, Mayfield said, sidewalk projects take five to seven years to complete, but community support allowed the West Tyvola project to be completed in about 2 1/2 years.
Mayfield said the most difficult part about building a new sidewalk often is negotiating to acquire the property.
“The community members really were champions on this just by working on land allotments that were needed,” said Mayfield, who represents District 3, the site of the accident.
The sidewalk opened to pedestrians on July 9.
Chastity Irby, who has lived nearby, said she feels safer walking with her four children along the road, but that more needs to done.
“It should have speed bumps,” said Irby, who thinks the 35 mph speed limit is too high.
Irby said that last school year her children, who attended nearby Barringer Academic Center, had to get on and off the bus at the intersection. She questioned whether the bus stop was safe.
After the ceremony, Mayfield and other city officials shoveled dirt over the roots of a tree planted in memory of the two brothers.
As part of the city’s Transportation Action Plan, the city plans to build 325 miles of new sidewalk by 2035.
According to TAP reports, 35 miles of sidewalk were designed or built during fiscal years 2012 and 2013, and 10 miles are expected to be completed for fiscal year 2014. There are 19 active sidewalk projects.
If a bond referendum to fund the citywide sidewalk program is passed in November, the city will receive $15 million for the next two years for sidewalks and pedestrian safety work.
But Mayfield said the work on West Tyvola isn’t finished.
“My next step is to get crossing lanes,” she said.