By Paul Tennant
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — Walking to school in North Andover may become a lot safer in the not-too-distant future.
The town is applying for a Safe Routes to School grant, according to Town Manager Andrew Maylor. If the town's bid is successful, the money will be used to construct sidewalks on Parker Street and other roads that are near schools, he said.
The U.S. Department of Transportation provides the money for Safe Routes to School grants. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation will decide whether North Andover qualifies for such a grant as well as how much money the town will receive.
An important part of the process of obtaining a Safe Routes to School grant is meetings with residents, Maylor said. Two meetings have already been scheduled at Town Hall.
The first is set for July 16 at 6 p.m. The second will take place Sept. 3, also at 6 p.m. That day is also the first day of school.
Town Planner Judy Tymon, who urged that North Andover apply for a Safe Routes to School grant, has said possible projects could include a sidewalk from the back of North Andover Middle School to Massachusetts Avenue by way of Parker Street; reconstructing sidewalks on Main Street; a pedestrian connection between the middle and Atkinson schools; and a multiuse path along Route 125 that could be used by both bikers and walkers.