In effort to enhance walkability and improve pedestrian safety, the Puyallup City Council is resurrecting the Sidewalk Link program, part of the six-year capital improvement plan in the 2015 Street Capital Improvement budget.
The Sidewalk Link program originated back in 2000 with the sole purpose of linking broken sidewalks in neighborhoods and heavily walked residential and business blocks across the city. This beneficial program was lost in 2009 because of the economic downturn, said Public Works director Rob Andreotti.
For the first time since 2009, the city’s budget is prosperous enough to warrant bringing the program back.
“We’re pleased to have it back in the budget, and we’re very happy to be starting constructing projects on these sidewalk links,” Andreotti told the city council at the March 24 meeting.
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Andreotti brought before council a list of six preferred sidewalk link projects.
The total budget for the 2015 program is $150,000. The cost estimate for the six preferred projects, according to city documents, is approximately $144,000.
In addition to the six listed projects, Andreotti and his staff also drafted an additional 29 projects located in various parts of the city for council to consider.
“I asked our boots on the ground to come up with a list of what they had heard the most of from citizens,” Andreotti explained. “So, that’s what this list is. It wasn’t meant to favor any area. We have another 29 projects on the list for council to consider. Any project we’d be happy to construct. We just want to put more concrete on the ground and be pleased to put more concrete on the ground.”
According to city documents, all projects considered identified missing sidewalk links to schools, businesses and places where people gather. Constructability was assessed and cost estimates were calculated.
All council members were pleased with the work done by Andreotti and his staff, and had varying opinions of the projects before them.
“I’m certainly glad we’re doing this,” Deputy Mayor John Hopkins said. “Clearly, the budget is too low for this, but it’s a start. Hopefully, next budget cycle, we can get more money.”
Hopkins particularly liked the first two projects on the list of six that addressed sidewalk breaks on East Main.
“These are two short stretches that actually can make for a nice loop,” Hopkins said. “I would like to see a little more geographical fairness (in the list of projects), shall we say. (I’m) noticing District 3 isn’t actually mentioned in the six projects. And I’d prefer that (the list) is staff driven, if you know what I mean. Because we all have our pet projects, and they may not be the best projects.”
Other council members, including John Palmer, Julie Door and Heather Shadko, all echoed remarks that a criteria to follow when identifying projects is paying attention to sidewalk breaks along busy streets, school routes, and links to trails and parks.
Councilman Tom Swanson emphasized his wish for strengthening sidewalk connections between senior care facilities like Sunset Gardens to Bradley Lake Park.
Mayor John Knutsen said he didn’t mind that “geographical fairness” may not be considered in the approved list, but only if a concerted effort is made in future years to ensure parity.
Andreotti came before the council March 24 looking for direction but not for its approval yet on projects. The approval process is targeted for late May, with construction beginning this summer.