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City Commission Wrestles With Sidewalk Priorities

Posted on January 16, 2015

City Commission Wrestles With Sidewalk Priorities

The city of Tallahassee has been wrestling for a way to prioritize sidewalk construction for the last couple of years. A mix of neighborhood politics, costs, and planning requirements come together to give elected officials, their constituents and city planning staff a headache over which neighborhoods get the next sidewalk project.

Over the past 10 years, the City has constructed over 50 miles of sidewalks.  However, that has not satisfied the identified needs for sidewalks and bicycle facilities within the City. Prior to December 2010, the City had numerous competing lists identifying pedestrian, bicycle and sidewalk infrastructure needs.

In December, 2010 the Commission approved staff’s recommendation to combine all known pedestrian and bicycle needs lists into one consolidated list entitled the Planned Multimodal Project (PMP) list.  At that time criteria were approved to rank all projects on the list.

On September 10th, 2014 Gabe Menendez of the City’s Public Works Department reported to City Commission that over the last several months, staff has been working to modify the prioritization criteria to account for updated information and evolving Commission priorities.

In response to these issues, and to simplify the ranking process, staff recommended implementing a new methodology to prioritize sidewalk projects.

The Proposed Prioritization Method separates projects into two tiers; Tier 1 – Projects with no existing sidewalks and Tier 2 – Projects with existing sidewalks on one side of street. Funding will be allocated to Tier 1 projects first.

The projects were to be ranked based on a 60 point scale with the criteria including safety (10 points), safe routes to school (10 points), new access (10 points) and latent demand (30 points).

Menendez reported that the changes proposed to the ranking criteria were presented to the Long Range Planning Target Issue committee and approved to come forward to the full commission for further discussion and consideration.

He did say that there were some concerns coming out of the target issue committee that the weight category for “latent” demand was too high and may need to be adjusted.

The City Commission then voted 4-0, with Commissioner Maddox absent, to approve modifications to the existing prioritization process which included splitting the demand category from just latent demand to include existing demand.

WHERE DOES YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD PROJECT RANK? SEE LIST HERE.

However, on December 10, 2014, the new rankings of sidewalk priorities based on the new criteria was set to be approved by the City Commission, but was pulled by City Commissioner Nancy Miller and sent back to the Long Range Target Issue committee for further discussion.

No explanation was given for this action.

The table shows the rankings of sidewalk projects before and after implementing the new criteria. A number of projects took significant hits and tumbled down the list based on the new criteria.

For example, two sidewalk projects in the Killearn area fell in the new rankings. The Shamrock Drive project in Killearn Estates fell from a ranking of 26 to 66 with the new criteria and the Clarecastle Way project in Killearn Acres fell from number 5 to a ranking of 48.

Sources say that this kind of fall in rankings can delay project by years. TR will report on any new rankings that come out of the Long Range Planning Target Issue committee.

3 Responses to City Commission Wrestles With Sidewalk Priorities

  1. bob fulford Reply

    January 16, 2015 at 6:38 pm

    One infallible way to decide where to put a needed sidewalk is to place it where there is evidence of need. Look for right of way with a well worn footpath and there is where a sidewalk would be worthwhile. For example: Ridge Road needs sidewalks on both sides. Recently one side has received sidewalks but there is evidence of need on the other side as well.

    The streets of Boston…and the side walks…follow (for the most part) old cow paths. Cows will find the easiest grade. While our streets are set we still could learn from cows.

    FSU early in its days as a coed school tried with little success to stop what were derisively called “Campus Cows”. Those were people who took the shortest route from place a to place b whether there was a paved walkway or not. Later….and currently…the paving is placed where it is, by evidence, needed.

    Ridge Road and Dent Street NEED sidewalks. Piedmont; not so much.

  2. smurfmom Reply

    January 18, 2015 at 11:20 am

    Thank you for this article. It’s nice to get a heads up on a planned taking of my property and that of my neighbors. I see where a sidewalk route near the top of the list is along a street where the city right of way stops at the curb.

    City crews seem to so used to doing what they want, they apparently don’t check if they own the property they are using. I guess it’s time to call an eminent domain attorney.

  3. Susan Barlow Reply

    January 23, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    Clarecastle Way is in Killearn Estates and ends at Pimlico (other than a few homes on Pimlico, the rest belong to the Acres).

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