Mountainburg city officials will put in more than a quarter-mile of sidewalks in its downtown area with the help of a $135,940 grant.

Mountainburg will use an Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department 80-20 matching grant to put down more than a quarter-mile of sidewalks on the west side of U.S. 71 beginning at the high school, said Mayor Neal Moon.

“It’s going to change the looks of downtown,” Moon said.

The sidewalks will travel in front of the municipal complex and city park up to the northeast corner of where the new public library will sit. Groundbreaking for the new library was held July 20.

“When the high school kids get out of school, they have to walk on the side of the street to come to the park,” Moon said. “Lots of them get out of school and wait at the park for their parents to come pick them up. It was just an unsafe situation.”

There’s little room for walking between the highway and the ditch, Moon said.

Total cost for the sidewalks will be $169,925, with the city matching the remaining $33,985 and paying for the engineer, Moon said.

Moon actually helped start Safe Routes to School, the program through which Mountainburg applied for the grant, as part of an overall highway safety program when he sat on American Traffic Safety Services Association board.

Formerly a co-owner of Time Striping, which provides asphalt and concrete pavement maintenance services, Moon sat on multiple transportation committees, he said. ATSSA introduced the safety program, he said.

“I was able to lobby for that and get money put aside on the federal highway budget for safety,” Moon said.

Safety conditions in multiple areas, including for highway workers, were put in place because of that program, Moon said.

Moon plans to apply for more grant money in the future to go toward additional sidewalks, he said, with the goal of linking the high school to the elementary school.

Once the city has acquired all easements needed for the project, bids for construction will be open, Moon said. He expects construction to begin in the early fall.