Friday, February 29, 2008

Metro works on requests for more sidewalks, bikeways

By SUZANNE NORMAND BLACKWOOD | • | 259-8268 • February 29, 2008 Tom Root, who lives near the Ellington Agricultural Center, said he realizes that now that he's getting older, he needs to exercise more. Sometimes, he walks to the store. He also has a bicycle for himself and one that he and his wife, Glenda, can ride together. "I'm not an exercise nut," he said. But, he added, if there were a bike lane in his neighborhood, he would exercise even more by cycling. It is because of residents such as Root that the subject of improved sidewalks and the addition of sidewalks and bikeways is getting the city's attention. As a way of addressing this issue, Metro Public Works recently held a meeting to gather input from residents on updating the city's Strategic Plan for Sidewalks and Bikeways. The plan establishes the order for new sidewalk construction and improvements based on proximity to neighborhoods, schools, libraries, parks and other facilities that create pedestrian traffic. The new plan will incorporate a "sidewalk matrix," which involves coordinating sidewalk projects with other Metro projects, such as new schools. Phase I of the Bikeways Plan has already been completed, and Phase II is being proposed, said Jim Snyder, capital manager for Metro Public Works. Sidewalks might encourage more walking Karen Van Cleave, who lives in the Percy Priest area, said the sidewalks in her neighborhood are in good condition. "We have some now, but we need more," she said, adding there are many children in the neighborhood who walk to school. She believes more sidewalks would encourage more people of all ages to walk for exercise. Since the Strategic Plan for Sidewalks and Bikeways was adopted in 2003, the city has added and repaired 124 miles of sidewalks; 94 miles of bike lanes; and more than 7,000 wheelchair-accessible sidewalks ramps. Resident wants more than repairs Resident Robin Tate-Johnson questions why more hasn't been done with the funding that has been available. The funding appropriated for the additions and improvements has totaled $83.75 million since 1999. "Where's the money going?" she asked. "It's budgeted to salaries, maps and public input." Tate-Johnson said she feels much of this is unnecessary. Tate-Johnson said she also didn't like how there was no clear distinction about how much of the money was going toward building new sidewalks and how much was simply going toward repairs. "It's somewhat budget-driven," Snyder said. "When you're receiving $5 million a year, you're basically in repair mode." With $20 million, you're more in a position to build new ones while you do repair work, he said. Also, said Snyder, although the majority of the money goes toward building sidewalks and bikeways, some attention needs to be devoted to meetings and maps. "This is a community plan, and we have to bring this information to the community to get their ideas," he said. "Those efforts are necessary to reach out to the citizens of Nashville."

No comments: