Residents see kink in sidewalk plans

By Susanna P. Barton
Resident Community News

Some residents of Arbor Lane in San Marco are concerned about the state Department of Transportation’s plans to connect a sidewalk segment on their street.
The one-block stretch, which will connect a short sidewalk from River Road to Hendricks Avenue, is one of several projects the FDOT is eyeing in the San Marco area. The work is being financed by federal dollars funneled to the state. The program mission is to better connect sidewalks and roadways for children to have safer passage to school, and promote walkability in neighborhoods across the country. Locally, Julia Landon College Preparatory School students helped study a two-mile radius of their school to help the FDOT determine where infrastructure might be improved.
At issue for some Arbor Land residents is whether the project is necessary — and if students even use Arbor Lane for passage to school.
Several residents voiced their concerns during a mid-September community meeting hosted by District 5 City Councilwoman Lori Boyer.
“Why has there been so much money spent already on this and you’re not talking to residents about it yet?” said Greer Wells, a local attorney who lives on Arbor Lane. “You’re building something that’s not needed, or wanted, and is not addressing a problem.”
Another neighbor said she has never seen any students using the street as a way to get to school, and like Wells, questioned why the sidewalk was needed.
The FDOT’s Chris Ledew said his department is in the “very beginning stages” of determining the sidewalk designs and would be working through conflicts with concerned residents. He also said the department would be sending a mailer out to residents in the area and planned to solicit additional input. If there are “an overwhelming number of questions,” the department could host public meetings, Ledew said. The planned construction start date is Dec. 2013.
Arbor Lane is not the only street in San Marco that could see sidewalk changes in the coming year. Other sites being considered are LaSalle Street, Thacker Road, Landon Avenue, Atlantic Boulevard, Mitchell Avenue and Arcadia Place, said Ledew during the meeting. The sidewalks would be built on public right-of-ways in front of homes throughout the neighborhood. More visible crosswalks also are in the works for the Atlantic Avenue/Hendricks Avenue intersection and Hendricks Avenue/Landon Avenue crossing.
“When you put in infrastructure, you hope it’s to increase the number of children walking to school,” Ledew explained. “The added benefit is that it can reduce [car] congestion around schools.”
But the ancillary benefit of better connecting sidewalks, he said, is for the enjoyment and safety of the entire community. School-age children, he indicated in response to a community meeting attendee’s comment, are not the only ones who use sidewalks in a
neighborhood.

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