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Roanoke's Williamson Road sees changes, more to come

Community walks raise awareness about issues

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ROANOKE – Every day more than 17,000 vehicles drive along Williamson Road. It's an area that's seen big changes in recent years with more updates on the way.

It's been two years since a series of community walks began to raise awareness for community members, police and Roanoke City and Roanoke County leaders about some of the bigger issues on Williamson Road.

During one of the first walks in Roanoke City, broken sidewalks, potholes and missing trash cans were all pointed out. With City officials there to see some of the problems in person, they were addressed and corrected within weeks.

But Wendy Jones, the executive director of the Williamson Road Area Business Association says there are still more improvements to be made.

One of the biggest safety issues she wants to address is a lack of sidewalks. Many parts of the busy road don't have a place for people to walk or ride their bikes, forcing them to walk along the shoulder of the road and sometimes right on the street.

That's a concern that will soon be addressed for a portion of the road in Roanoke County. As part of the Plantation Road Project, a sidewalk has been approved for the stretch of Williamson Road from Plantation Road to Peters Creek Road.

Jones says the county is still working to secure funding to stretch that new sidewalk to the Roanoke Assisted Living Facility, an area that's seen many issues with people walking or pushing wheelchairs on the street.

"I don't think it has to be a complete streets approach," says Jones. "I do think curb, gutter, sidewalk, lighting and drainage are the key things that we need to do."

The stretch of sidewalk from Peters Creek to the assisted living facility will not be approved until grant money and other funding is in place. That's a plan that could take years.

The goal is to eventually have the sidewalk stretch from one end of Williamson Road in Roanoke County all the way to Downtown Roanoke.