City marks milestone on sidewalks effort | Local News
TRAVERSE CITY – After five years and nearly $ 8 million, Traverse City commissioners and staff rode a 32.37 mile victory lap after completing a push to repair crumbling sidewalks and fill in gaps in the city’s network of sidewalks.
They celebrated the milestone at a recent meeting, complete with cupcakes arranged to spell the word “WALK!” What began in 2015 with a commitment to expedite the city’s sidewalk construction plans, which otherwise would have been a 20-year process, led to the multi-pronged, multi-year push, urban planner Shawn Winter said. Not only did the construction of the sidewalks help achieve a number of city goals, but there are many reported benefits of the sidewalks, from increased pedestrian safety to more interactions with friends.
“It’s pretty impressive,” he said. “If you look at it structurally, it’s a pretty simple thing. You talk about a concrete belt on the roadside, but it touches so many different aspects that we want to achieve here. “
Urban planner Tim Lodge said it took many 14-hour days in his office, a second round of bidding for projects for safe ways to school, and numerous other considerations, including securing a list of easements to pull it all together.
He went through the breakdown: 5.62 miles of sidewalk maintenance work for $ 878,000, enough to keep the city on an ongoing project to remove pitfalls; $ 2,218,500 to rebuild 6.1 miles of sidewalk along the roads being reconstructed; $ 1,986,000 in safe school access grants to build 5.2 miles of sidewalks and pathways; and $ 2.75 million to build 7.45 miles of sidewalk for the gap and fill project.
To pay for a good portion of the work, the city borrowed $ 4.5 million in 2018, which, as previously reported, will be paid off in 2034. This was part of a larger bond issue totaling $ 7.735 million, with the remainder being paid for part of the Boardman Lake Trail project.
City Manager Marty Colburn admitted that the sidewalk work could not have taken place without a partner, both in and out of town, and representatives of those partners also spoke.
Dr. John VanWagoner, Superintendent of Traverse City Area Public Schools, said he hoped there are more opportunities to work with the city, as the district has on safe walks to schools, and Gary Howe of El Grupo Norte said that the city’s responsiveness to sidewalk problems has improved a lot since then, a time in 2010 when his request to the city commission for a sidewalk was “basically … laughed at”.
Sidewalks are only part of the story, said Brian Beauchamp, director of communications and policy at Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation Trails. The organization is rebuilding its trail along Parsons Road and is working with the city, Grand Traverse County and Garfield Township on a project to complete the Boardman Lake Trail loop.
These projects to make the community more accessible will be finalizing or ongoing as more people use the trails, with a 20-30 percent increase in 2020, Beauchamp said.
“Many of these first-time users are on the go because they have access and availability close to home,” he said. “Our goal is to make every home a starting point, and sidewalks are a big part of that.”