PALMETTO, Fla. - In many neighborhoods around Manatee County, kids walk to see friends and relatives, go to parks, and even to school.
Perry Youmans grew up near 5th Avenue East in Bradenton, where there has never been a sidewalk or crosswalk for him to use. He says cars whiz past, no matter who's walking or biking nearby.
"Sometimes they go a little too fast for the neighborhood," he said.
But roadways are finally changing. Construction is underway for sidewalks and crosswalks.
"It was needed. It was badly needed. It’s been needed. There should have been no reason why we had to walk in the street," said Youmans.
Reggie Bellamy, a Manatee County Commissioner for District 2, agrees. He also grew up and lives in Manatee County.
"This has been a long time coming," said Reggie Bellamy. "We actually darted across the street when I was growing up."
Manatee County commissioners unanimously approved the changes earlier this year through the capital improvement plan.
"There’s been a lot of excitement and a lot of appreciation just for the dirt to start moving, for them to see there is a difference coming through," said Commissioner Bellamy.
There will be a crosswalk for students at Lincoln Middle School and sidewalks and elevated intersections to slow down speeders.
The changes should be finished by the end of 2022.
"The kids can ride their bikes and do a lot more and be safer. It’s safe, it makes it safe," said Youmans.
Commissioner Bellamy has walked the county's streets since he was a child. Now he’s witnessing positive changes he helped bring about.
"We are changing the face of our community in making sure our youth and our pedestrian traffic is a lot safer," said Commissioner Bellamy.