Southwest Michigan Planning Commission recommends sidewalk plan for Napier Ave.

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (WNDU) Napier Avenue in Benton Harbor could be getting a new path to make the area more accessible to pedestrians and bicyclists.

Roughly 7,000 people live near the road and there’s a school, but what you don’t see are sidewalks.

Up to 15,000 vehicles fly down Napier every single day. Since 2016, 14 walkers or bikers have been hit by cars according to the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission.

“You see when you’re walking along here that there’s a worm out spot next to the road," Associate Planner Ryan Fellows said. "And you can physically see that people are walking here. The need is pretty evident.”

By bringing in sidewalks, the road will narrow from two lanes down to just one, but the Planning Commission says it’s nothing for drivers to worry about.

“A lot of these will remain the same level of service or be very close to that with only a second or two to change, if any,” Fellows said.

The proposed project that’s come from people’s votes and opinions is just a proposal though.

“This is what it could look like and how this could all be put together in the future," Fellows said. "It’s up to the community to decide what they want to do with their roadway.”

And that may not be easy, Benton Charter Township, Berrien County and St. Joseph all own different parts of the road, so all of them need to be willing to fix the issue.

“But each piece that does happen, we believe it will create a much safer environment for everyone and we really look forward to working with the community to try to make the best improvements we can throughout the corridor,” Fellows said.

The project could begin as early as next year, but it’s just a recommendation, so there’s no promise it will happen.

For more information on the plan, check out http://napieravenue.org/