MECHANIC FALLS – Elm Street School students will soon have an easier, safer time walking to school.

Mechanic Falls has received an $18,000 from the state to install sidewalks from Elm Street to True Street and in the area of Callahan Circle. While there is space for children to walk on the sides of those roads now, there is no sidewalk.

“There’s nothing to prevent tires from running over you,” said Town Manager Dana Lee.

Elm Street School has 370 kids in kindergarten through grade eight. Many of them walk to and from school.

Mechanic Falls was one of 11 communities to receive matching grants through the state’s Maine Safe Routes to School Program. More than $533,000 was awarded this spring, with the money going to pay for sidewalks, better pedestrian crossings and other improvements to make streets safer for schoolchildren.

Grant winners include: Augusta, Bath, Boothbay Harbor, Gorham, SAD 12 in Jackman, Orono, Pittsfield, Portland, South Berwick, Southwest Harbor and Van Buren.

To receive a grant, towns must agree to pay part of the cost of the improvements. Mechanic Falls voters have already approved a plan to pay $12,000.

Sidewalk construction will happen this summer. Officials expect construction to be finished by the time school opens in the fall.

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