The county freeholders have given the go-ahead for a plan to complete the construction of sidewalks along both sides of a half-mile portion of Mill Street (County Road 519) in Newton.

NEWTON – The Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders has endorsed a plan to expand sidewalks on both sides of the Mill Street portion of County Road 519 as part of an overall plan to promote pedestrian access and safety in the area.

Although portions of Mill Street already have sidewalks, other portions do not – a situation that town officials here increasingly have come to view as a safety hazard on the heavily trafficked road.

The plan calls for a complete sidewalk to be constructed along a half-mile stretch of the northbound portion of Mill Street extending northward from the corner at Water and Spring streets (Route 206), past the Brookside Terrace apartments, to Project Self-Sufficiency.

An additional sidewalk is to be completed along the southbound portion of Mill Street, extending southward from Swartswood Road to Water and Spring streets (Route 206).

Because the sidewalk construction would be taking place along a county right-of-way, the county's approval -- to which the freeholders unanimously gave their blessing Wednesday -- was needed so the Town of Newton could proceed with its application to have the state fund the project through a Small Cities Community Development Block Grant.

The sidewalk construction plan follows the relocation last month of a former crosswalk from a point along Mill Street to a new location about 50 feet up the road between the Brookside Terrace apartment complex and main Newton firehouse.

For years, many Brookside Terrace residents, including some who were wheelchair-bound, had been using a path along the northbound side of Mill Street to access the former crosswalk, which they would then use to get to Hayek's Market and other retail establishments and services in town.

Town officials had been asking the county for several years to move the former crosswalk to a more prominent location along the heavily trafficked road, which was achieved last month as part of a project jointly overseen by the Sussex County Engineering Department's Office of Bridge and Traffic Safety and the Sussex County Division of Public Works.

The new crosswalk also includes ADA-compliant curb cuts with a rubber-like pad to enable those with impaired vision to more easily identify the crosswalk.

It additionally includes solar-powered yellow flashing lights that pedestrians can activate to alert oncoming motorists when someone is crossing.

The Town of Newton agreed to reimburse the county for the flashing lights and associated materials at a cost not to exceed $10,000, with the county responsible for the engineering and labor.

Eric Obernauer can also be reached on Twitter: @EricObernNJH or by phone at 973-383-1213.