A growing number of municipalities are implementing sidewalk construction into their transportation plans. This shift marks a larger trend in more pedestrian-friendly designs that cater to a carless resident interested in navigating the community by foot or bicycle.
In the Greater Waco Region of Texas, a demand for pedestrian routes is growing steadily in light of a new transit investment push. The region’s Connections 2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan is an extensive transit strategy that includes a $32.8 million boost to build or repair 141 miles of sidewalk in Greater Waco over the next 25 years. In the next decade, alone, Waco will add 98 miles of new, pedestrian-friendly pavement totaling $17 million.
Over the past few years, while the Metropolitan Planning Organization was drawing up the complete transportation plan, the agency received significant feedback on a lack of pedestrian routes in the region. As a result, the Waco City Council has ventured on its most ambitious pedestrian initiative. The city is already spending around $200,000 annually on sidewalk projects to keep up with demand and new requirements, Waco Trib reported.
The Metropolitan Planning Organization and the city of Waco are also considering applying for federal transit grants to support specific sidewalk projects such as:
- Making train stations wheel chair accessible
- Creating safe routes to schools
- Connecting transit stops to population dense areas downtown
A recent school consolidation in the area has increased pedestrian volumes outside of schools, making it more imperative for adequate sidewalks to be constructed to keep walkers safe and roadways clear, Waco Trib reported.
Lakewood, Washington, has plans to leverage $1.6 million in grants from the Federal Highway Safety Improvement Program for two projects focused on roadway safety and efficiency. The $1.6 million comes from a total of $48 million in federal funding the state of Washington received to update roadways statewide.
The Lakewood projects include:
- Safety Improvements: $788,500 will be used to remove existing traffic signals and street lighting at select intersections, install new traffic signals, add reflective yellow tape around signal backplates and provide pedestrians with a countdown. The city is also upgrading its curb ramps so they are ADA-compliant.
- Roadway Safety Improvements: $823,350 will be used to install curb gutter and sidewalk through a curved area equipped with a guardrail, as well as install streetlights, lay new pavement and restripe the pavement.
In Batavia, Illinois, a federal grant from the Safe Routes to School program will help pay for crosswalk improvements along pathways to and from schools. Batavia’s engineering department received a $14,749 federal grant to cover the entire project. The improvements to school routes will include:
- Installing flashing beacons at three locations
- Connecting a regional trail along an apartment complex to downtown Batavia
- Creating new pathways along major intersections
Batavia also has plans to apply for a $40,000 Kane County Community Development Block Grant to construct a new sidewalk in another project.