Walk this way 

Bike routes aren’t the only transportation method the city is hoping to improve, as the City Council last week approved a master plan for the MAPS 3 sidewalk projects.

An earlier plan presented to the Council had been sent back to the subcommittee level after council members expressed concern that so few miles were slated to be built.

During the MAPS 3 campaign, voters were told that about $9 million of the $777 million program would fund around 70 miles of city sidewalks.

The sidewalks master plan sent to city leaders in September, however, included only around 25 miles of sidewalks.

City officials attributed the discrepancy between what was promised and what is planned to the fact that many of the areas selected for sidewalks have driveways, light poles and other infrastructure items that need to be replaced or worked around.

In addition, officials said the MAPS 3 campaign used calculations based on the belief that sidewalks would be 4 feet wide, rather than the required measurement of at least 5 feet.

The master plan was changed little — although it did put the mile-range of sidewalks to be completed between 25 and 35 miles — by the MAPS 3 Trails and Sidewalks Subcommittee before being returned to the MAPS 3 Citizens Advisory Board. That panel, in turn, sent the plan on to City Council along with a recommendation that more money be found to fund a full 70 miles of sidewalks.

Some council members suggested that the city could use MAPS 3 contingency funds to eventually build more sidewalks, although others cautioned against dipping into that fund so early in the program’s history.

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