The city government of Siloam Springs took a significant step toward making-improved and more connected sidewalks a reality last week.
The Board of Directors, at their regular meeting Feb. 21, voted unanimously to adopt the city's Sidewalk and Trail Connectivity Master Plan. The plan contains a map of the city and 86 proposed sidewalk improvement projects. The entire plan will cost about $11 million and will take years to complete.
"The idea behind it is that you're connecting gaps in sidewalks throughout the community," said Senior Planner Ben Rhoads. "We identified where the gaps were and we took it another step to prioritize the projects."
That prioritization involved assigning a point value to each project based on a variety of factors, including population density, proximity to points of interest like shopping centers or parks and proximity to schools. The results were a map that was presented to the public in October, where 58 attendees left staff 38 comments.
A total of 28.3 miles of sidewalk and trail would be constructed under the plan, including 17.9 miles of 5-foot sidewalk. The cost is estimated at $80.22per linear foot of sidewalk, which does not account for inflation over the course of the plan.
When the plan is complete, the plan is that no residential house would be more than one quarter of a mile from a sidewalk, with the exception of a few isolated houses near city limits.
Rhoads said Feb. 21 that the comments received by city staff indicated a strong desire for East Main Street to be a high priority for the city. Members of the Board of Directors followed that sentiment by making comments requesting the East Main Street project be completed sooner.
Plans for improving East Main Street are divided into two portions. The eastern portion, to the east of Lincoln Street, is listed as the second highest priority and should be completed in 2018 under the master plan. The western portion is the third highest priority, but will require much more effort and resources, said City Engineer Justin Bland.
The master plan indicates the western portion will be completed sometime after 2019 because it will be part of a larger street improvement.
Bland said the idea behind those improvements will be to tie East Main Street into the downtown area. City staff is working on a plan to address the project and its unique challenges, such as the railroad bridge which does not leave enough space for a sidewalk.
The city will reach out to consultants and the public to get a range of options for the project, which could include street improvements and landscaping in addition to sidewalk improvements, Bland said.
Complete article from the Siloam Springs Herald Leader
Written by Michael Burchfiel