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Enhancing Walkability in Hartford, South Dakota

Picture of Main Street in Hartford, South Dakota, with new yellow and white painted curb extensions and crosswalks.
Callie Tuschen, Hartford, SD

Callie Tuschen is a local business owner in Hartford, SD. She also serves as president of Downtown Hartford, Inc., and is passionate about working to make her community even better.

In 2022, she applied for – and was accepted into – the Central Regional Walking College. This program was spearheaded by AARP and America Walks, a nonprofit organization that advances efforts to create safe and enjoyable places to walk by providing local leaders and community members with the skills and the resources to effectively advocate for change. America Walks had previously held Walking College programs at the national level, but then piloted state-level programs in 2021, with South Dakota serving as one of three pilot states. In 2022, the South Dakota program was expanded to include several other Midwest states to create the Central Region Walking College.

Picture of the Main Street intersection in Hartford, South Dakota, with no crosswalks or markings on the street.

As Walking College Fellows, Tuschen and the other participants completed several weeks of coursework and were then tasked with writing a Walking Action Plan to implement back in their own communities. To help with implementation, AARP provided each participant with a $550 “kickstart” grant.

Picture of the Main Street intersection in Hartford, South Dakota, with yellow and white curb extensions and white crosswalks painted on the streets.

In August of 2022, Tuschen led a group of residents on a “walk audit” in downtown Hartford, which was an opportunity to look at factors like sidewalk condition, crosswalks, lighting, traffic speed and more. Participants used the AARP Walk Audit Toolkit to record their observations during the walk.

After reviewing the comments from the walk audit, Tuschen began working with the City of Hartford on improvements as part of a Downtown Master Plan. One of the key elements she focused on was making it safer for pedestrians to cross downtown streets.

“When streets are wide without lane markings, that can encourage vehicles to move faster,” Tuschen says. “And, if there are no crosswalks, pedestrians oftentimes have to step out in the street and look around parked cars to check for traffic. We wanted to add visible elements to both slow traffic down and to make it safer for pedestrians to cross the street.”

Close up of the white and yellow paint to create a curb extension on a corner of Main Street in Hartford, South Dakota.

Tuschen’s Walking Action Plan included the use of curb extensions, also referred to as “bump-outs,” which are traffic calming measures that extend the width of the sidewalk and curb line at crosswalks and other locations.

“Curb extensions are easy to do,” says Tuschen. “All it takes is a little paint and some bollards to mark the space. Working with the city to ensure we were following appropriate street design guidelines, we created spaces where pedestrians and vehicles can see each other, and it also shortens the distance pedestrians have to travel to get across the street.”

Tuschen says that you don’t have to be an expert in streets or transportation to make projects like this happen. All it takes is that first call to your city officials.

“The City was very amenable towards my proposal and they did the work to install it. I thought I'd be out there rolling paint on, but one day it was just there!”

Learn more about walkability and resources available from AARP Livable Communities.