City to begin replacing sidewalks in 2014, to spend about $100,000 on repairs
Bikers and walkers will not have any new sidewalks to use in Mount Pleasant in 2013, but there are plans to begin new sidewalk construction in 2014.
Under the city’s five-year Capital Improvement Plan, $100,000 is expected to be budgeted annually for new sidewalks from 2014-17. These funds will not be taken out of the sidewalk repair budget.
When the City Commission is determining locations for new sidewalks, designated school walking routes and school walking zones are top priorities.
From 1995 through 2005, Mount Pleasant was spending around $100,000 per year on new sidewalks. In 2006, the city’s expenses were exceeding its revenue, so changes had to be made to the budget.
“We had to make some adjustments and decided to quit building new sidewalks,” Assistant City Manager Nancy Ridley said. “What we are hoping to do next year, one of the buckets (funds) we have is capital improvement. We are hoping the city commission makes the decision to increase the tax rate, so we have more money.”
Previously, Mount Pleasant would have its property owners pay around 40 percent of the new sidewalk expenses, while the city would pay the rest of the costs.
But Ridley said it plans on paying the full amount for new sidewalk construction in the future.
“As you can imagine, the people who were paying (before 2005) did not really like that, because it can add up to be a pretty big bill,” Ridley said. “We are hoping if we start the new program next year, we would just pay the whole cost of it, so we don’t have to have those debates with the property owners.”
Mount Pleasant has 64.7 miles of sidewalk, which accounts for approximately 44 percent of the 147 miles that would be needed to have sidewalks on both sides of every street.
City resident Peter Koper said sidewalks are a vital part of building a community.
“We’re in the older neighborhood (on the corner of University and Maple Streets) by choice, and one of the reasons is the sense of neighborhood you get from sidewalks,” he said. “Our neighbors walk their dogs, their kids play and the sidewalks keep us in contact with each other.”
2013 sidewalk budget
This year, the city will have $92,750 to spend on sidewalk repair, and an additional $40,000 left over from last year’s budget.
Most of the money will be spent on replacing handicap accessible ramps. Under Americans with Disabilities Act regulations, if the city does any construction on a sidewalk or street, new ramps must be installed.
In 2013, the city will overlay Adams Street to High Street and Broadway Street to High Street. All expenses will come from the sidewalk fund.
“It’s a dilemma,” Ridley said. “We can’t do as much (working on sidewalks) because the ramps are so expensive. But, for people who are physically challenged, it allows them to get around the city a little bit easier. It’s one of those tough decisions — do you make more for everybody, or do you make what you have good for everybody?”
Sidewalk repair funds are projected to increase to $146,000 in 2014, because the city will have 85 ADA ramps to replace. It is replacing 45 this year.
“In 2014, we realized that we have 85 ramp locations that need to be replaced because of the overlays, which will cost $90,000,” City Division of Public Works engineer Jennifer Flachs said. “If we had our money this year, we would have used almost all of it up in replacing ramps, and we need to have more money for complaint locations.”
The remaining funds left over from the ADA ramp construction will be used to repair complaint locations and poorly rated sidewalks. In 2012, the city inspected all of the sidewalks and gave them a ranking between one and 10, one being the worst.
Flachs estimated how much money the department would have left after replacing the ADA ramps.
“We determined with the amount of money left this year, we can repair 17,775 square feet of four-inch (thick) sidewalk, or 1,500 square feet of six-inch (thick) sidewalk,” she said.
Flachs said there has only been one complaint about sidewalk location so far this year, but it is common for most of them to come after winter.
“Our only complaint is at Andre and Franklin,” she said. “Last year, we took care of a lot of complaints, but I’m sure we will receive more come spring and summer time.”
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