$15K study launched to look into filling sidewalk gap along Scio Church Road in Ann Arbor
Courtesy of City of Ann Arbor
The City Council voted unanimously Monday night to spend $15,000 to study options for constructing new sidewalks along Scio Church Road between Delaware Drive and South Maple Road.
While there are sidewalks on the north side of the 0.4-mile stretch, there aren't any on the south side, and that's what residents complained about in petitions turned in to the city in August.
"I'm looking forward to a time when my kids and everyone else in the neighborhood have a safe pedestrian route to nearby destinations," said resident Peter Houk, who circulated the petitions.
Houk said a lot has changed since his neighborhood was built decades ago without a sidewalk on Scio Church Road.
"There are more residences west of town and therefore more traffic on our stretch of Scio Church," he said. "There are important destinations nearby like the Ice Cube and the new library branch and lately there are a lot of young kids in our neighborhood."
Homayoon Pirooz, head of the city's project management unit, said city staff will evaluate several alternatives for connecting the neighborhood with an existing pedestrian bridge that crosses I-94 at Maple Road. He said those alternatives will draw from ideas from residents.
After developing the conceptual alternatives and rough cost estimates, Pirooz said, a public meeting will be held with residents to present and discuss the options.
After receiving additional feedback, city staff plans to make recommendations to the City Council for approval and authorization to proceed with design.
"This is just the first step in starting a process to look at how this might happen," Council Member Margie Teall, D-4th Ward, said at Monday's meeting.
Council Member Sabra Briere, D-1st Ward, said many of Ann Arbor's outlying subdivisions were not built with pedestrians in mind, and whatever the city can do to improve that is a positive step.
"Indeed there's a lot of demand coming to us for new sidewalks in a variety of locations, whether those are to fill sidewalk gaps between sidewalks or to put in entirely new sidewalks," she said. "We're lucky that in a town that wasn't really built for pedestrians, so many people want to be able to walk to their destination and so many people want to be able to bike to their destination."
In a split 6-5 vote, the City Council decided in August against directing staff to develop a comprehensive program to address sidewalk gaps throughout the city over five years.
The defeated resolution was brought forward by Briere and Council Member Mike Anglin, D-5th Ward, who argued there are many city streets that have no sidewalks, requiring pedestrians to use the streets to get to and from their destinations, including bus stops.
They further argued that because the Ann Arbor Public Schools has reduced bus services, there's an increased number of students walking to school.
View Scio Church Road sidewalk gap in a larger map
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's email newsletters.