NEW ALBANY —
With his home on Captain Frank Road, New Albany City Councilman John Gonder gets a daily reminder of the road’s lack of sidewalks.
But Captain Frank is not the exception: Officials are taking note of the city’s lack of pathways while forming a priority list of streets most in need of sidewalks.
While Gonder conceded Captain Frank isn’t a hub for foot traffic, he said during Thursday’s council meeting that enough pedestrians are literally walking on the road to cause him concern.
And there are more roads than Captain Frank with gaps in sidewalk connections or no walking paths at all, he added.
“It really is coming home to me as a real safety issue for the city,” Gonder said.
Pedestrian safety has come to the forefront for other city boards recently.
Councilwoman Diane McCartin-Benedetti questioned the New Albany Redevelopment Commission earlier this month as to why the Slate Run Road project hasn’t started.
The addition or extension of sidewalks on both sides of Slate Run Road were to be included in the $4 million effort, but administration officials have declined to commit to that project, citing other financial obligations.
Councilman Greg Phipps said last week a lack of sidewalks isn’t an issue specific to one or two districts.
“I would like to know which streets in town don’t have sidewalks, because I bet there’s a lot of them,” he said.
John Rosenbarger, director of public facilities projects for the city, said New Albany last commissioned a sidewalks analysis in 1991.
“It hasn’t been updated comprehensively since then,” he said.
Rosenbarger agreed to the request of Councilman Scott Blair to form the priority list focusing on which roads administrative staff believe are in the most need of sidewalks.
The city uses Community Development Block Grant funds to repair sidewalks in qualified areas, but installing new walking paths isn’t cheap.
According to Rosenbarger, it costs about $3 million per mile to construct sidewalks, as the installation of new paths includes building new drainage systems as well.
It cost between $4 million and $5 million to install sidewalks for about a two-mile section of Daisy Lane a few years ago, Rosenbarger said.
Council members expressed interest in at least adding sidewalks on one side of streets where they are deemed to be needed.
Phipps also mentioned there are areas in the city with gaps in sidewalk connections. For example, he cited a lack of connection of walking paths along Charlestown Road near Fairmont Avenue.
In Rosenbarger’s opinion, Grant Line Road between Beechwood Avenue and McDonald Lane is the area of New Albany that needs sidewalks the most.
Thankfully there’s a federal aid project in the works for Grant Line Road that will include the installation of sidewalks in that area, he said.