Connecting neighborhoods to schools and neighborhoods to business areas via sidewalks is a high priority for the city of Puyallup.
In 2015, the Puyallup City Council approved a budget of $150,000 to resume work on building new sidewalks and connecting existing sidewalks, with $60,000 earmarked for sidewalk repair.
In 2016, the council approved to increase the budget for the Sidewalk Link project, totaling $300,000, according to Rob Andreotti, the city’s Public Works director.
Last surveyed in 2014, there were 145 miles of sidewalks in the Puyallup city limits. The 2015 Sidewalk Link projects added an additional 700 linear feet, Andreotti said.
In his monthly update, Puyallup City Manager Kevin Yamamoto wrote: “The 2015 Sidewalk Link project is nearly complete. This project is working to close gaps in sidewalk sections around the city. Links completed thus far include: Wildwood Park Drive (near Ferrucci Junior High), 25th Street SE (near E. Pioneer), East Main (north side, at Rainier Street), and 7th Ave SE (east of 7th Street SE). ADA upgrades have also been completed on the curb ramps at the intersection of 7th Ave SE and 10th Street SE. The final two link locations are currently under construction, including 15th Ave SW (under the state Route 512 overpass) and 14th Street SW (in front of the Meeker Restoration site).”
While providing safe paths for citizens to walk has always been a priority for the city, Andreotti says funding went away in 2008 during the recession but has made a return in recent years.
“We originally went after low-hanging fruits,” Andreotti said. “Projects have gotten more complex to include ramps, curbing and drainage.”
Construction crews are continuing to go on a project-by-project basis for connecting sidewalks.
“The safety aspect is extremely important,” Andreotti said. “Keep pedestrians out of the right away of traffic and give kids a safe place to walk.”
For council member Tom Swanson, ensuring students have safe routes to walk to and from school is a priority.
We had a big push for walkaiblity and connectivity for students to schools. We started looking at a backlog of what we would like to do, and either we won’t get there or we will ... either it’s a commitment or not.
Tom Swanson, Puyallup City Council member
“We had a big push for walkaiblity and connectivity for students to schools,” Swanson said. “We started looking at a backlog of what we would like to do, and either we won’t get there or we will ... either it’s a commitment or not.”
In agreement with citizens, the public started voicing sidewalks and safe walking routes as something residents would like their the council to prioritize.
“We need to identify the key projects and stay active with it,” Swanson said. “This is just the beginning.”
In addition to increasing the budget for the Sidewalk Link project, Swanson has pitched the idea to his fellow council members to use red light camera ticket income toward sidewalks.
“The city should consider dedicating a portion of red light money to this,” he said. “The city currently gets roughly $500,000 per year from it. It would be one way to legitimately dedicate funds and stabilize funding to make sidewalks a priority.”
City staff will work on gathering data on frequent repair locations, identify heavy-traffic areas with existing gaps, and develop a proposed priority list for the 2016 project sites for council review and approval. Citizens can also email their requests for sidewalk funding to Andreotti at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the city’s Public Works Department 253-841-5505.