In August, the MAPS 3 Trails and Sidewalks Subcommittee sent a sidewalks master plan to the MAPS 3 Citizens Advisory Board. Out of 131 total alignments identified as in need of sidewalks, the plan prioritized around 31 of them.
In the master plan, of the more than $9 million set aside for sidewalks, about $6.8 million would go to construct the 31 alignments, representing around 26 miles of the 70 miles promised during the campaign.
The difference mainly resulted from pre-adoption estimates being based on four-foot-wide sidewalks, rather than city-mandated five-foot sidewalks. MAPS officials also noted that the estimates failed to take into account utilities, lighting, benches that would have to be moved, as well as other expenses.
When the plan came before the City Council on Aug. 28, several council members took issue with the fact that only an estimated 26 miles will be built. Others, such as Ward 7 Councilman Ronald “Skip” Kelly, took issue with the fact that the planned sidewalks will not be evenly distributed throughout the city’s wards.
The council sent the master plan back to the subcommittee level.
On Sept. 26, the committee ultimately decided to send the original master plan back to the MAPS 3 Citizens Advisory Board for approval.
Susan Hooper, Citizens Advisory Board member and chair of the Trails and Sidewalks Subcommittee, said the subcommittee was concerned about not getting the full 70 miles, but felt the criteria established in the master plan were correct.
The only minor change to the plan was shifting from the initial conservative cost estimate, which resulted in the projection of 26 miles of sidewalk to a less conservative figure of 36 miles, she said.
While many MAPS 3 projects are facing tighter-than-expected budget constraints, none are in danger of being sacrificed to the degree that sidewalks are, said board member Mike Dover.
“In no other project are we looking at literally half of what we were expecting to do,” Dover said. Ward 8 Councilman Patrick Ryan, who also sits on the Citizens Advisory Board, told the board that council members are aware of the issue and share the board’s and subcommittee’s concerns.
“We have an obligation to try as best we can to deliver what we promised the citizens,” he said. “Clearly, 70 miles of sidewalk was part of this motion.”
The master plan was scheduled to go before the City Council during yesterday’s meeting.
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