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Posted on Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 4:02 p.m.

$15K study launched to look into filling sidewalk gap along Scio Church Road in Ann Arbor

By Ryan J. Stanton


The city's staff made this map showing gaps in the sidewalk system along Scio Church Road between Delaware Drive and South Maple Road.

Courtesy of City of Ann Arbor

In response to petitions signed by 75 residents in the Churchill Downs neighborhood, Ann Arbor officials are looking into options for filling a gap in the city's sidewalk system.

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 Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 6:12 p.m.

Last week I found out the change order for 30,000 from the fiasco at West Park that was illegally taken from us residents, now this 15,000....every nickel and dime is killing us taxpayers not to mention a great paying job for someone in this town for 45,000 to do the job right!!!!


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 6:09 p.m.

the 2007 Comprehensive Non Motorized Plan already involved us the residents which cost us over 100,000 for the proposed improvements for this segment. Just look at the Plan!!!!! Why are we always trying to redo everything over and over....waste of city dollars, no public meeting needed, just look at the plan and get your cost estimates and do your JOB!!!!


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 2:49 p.m.

It has still NOT been made plain WHY when we have staff that is paid to do this we are allocating $15K.Does this mean they will get overtime? I would imagine staff sits on their collective thumbs enough to work this in.

Ron Granger

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 2:19 p.m.

They should put the AATA workers who are no longer jawing about the county-wide plan to work on this. Put shovels in their hands, and get them out there doing real work. Though I'm not convinced they aren't still sitting around, feet up on desks, driving all over for meetings, still scheming about how they can spend hundreds of millions to expand their empire.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 1:59 p.m.

I suggest that concerned taxpayers offer to do the study for free, or that they offer the City a reduced cost plan for the study. Evidently we have a lot of engineers with extra time on their hands and the ability to perform the engineering/traffic/ studies and the extra time to meet with citizens. This is a win for all involved, I am thanking you in advance for your work and the offer to free up city staff for other projects.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 2:53 p.m.

I will do the study! Why would we not want sidewalk there? Is there some nearly extinct insect making it's home there? It does not take a genius to shoot some grades and lay it out. Though I am sure the "engineers" would like us to believe it does!


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 1:57 p.m.

Why does it take $15K to study something? What a waste of money!!!!!


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 1:54 p.m.

Much more critical is a sidewalk from the west side of the I 94 overpass out to Uplands Drive. But, alas, this is not Ann Arbor, but Scio Township and Washtenaw County. They do not recognize pedestrians. For years young people have walked on the road, or in the mud to get to the large subdivisions off of Uplands Drive. Why can't situations like this be addressed by our multiple governments? Jim.

Seasoned Cit

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.

Why spend the money to make sure sidewalks are on both sides of Scio Church at the west end, when there is quarter mile of the road with NO sidewalks on either side at the east end of the road at Ann Arbor Saline Road? I guess if there aren't people signing petitions, nothing gets done.

Kathy Griswold

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 1:31 a.m.

What about the time (cost) a citizen spent collecting 75 signatures to convince the city council to authorize $15,000 for staff to do their job? Sound convoluted? It is. Ann Arbor has sufficient resources for sidewalks. However, those resources are being spent on long-range, questionable transit projects while our children walk in the streets, sometimes before dawn, to schools and bus stops. Ryan – Please consider an article on the amount of Ann Arbor taxpayer funds spent on these questionable transit projects, including the now failed countywide transit project. How many miles of sidewalks could we have funded?

Jonathan Blutarsky

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 12:33 a.m.

Thanks Ryan - sounds like double speak to me.

Steve Hendel

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 3:31 p.m.

It means they set aside a portion of their budget to cover these costs.

Jonathan Blutarsky

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 4:44 a.m.

Kejamder - I'm not casting dispersions at Ryan. My thoughts are why does the internal staff have to bill 15k to the city? Are they not salary?


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 1:09 a.m.

how so?

Ryan J. Stanton

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 12:21 a.m.

From a city staff memo to council: "The $15,000 would cover internal staff time to evaluate different alternatives for a safe pedestrian route connecting the Lansdowne/Churchill Downs neighborhood to the pedestrian bridge across I-94. The number was arrived at by estimating the amount of staff time necessary to develop engineering alternatives, rough cost estimates, and funding alternatives; present them to the public; and eventually make a recommendation to Council. The non-motorized plan does recommend a sidewalk on the south side of Scio Church in this area."

Ron Granger

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 2:16 p.m.

Thanks Ryan! Quite a few people seem to think this happens just by magic. A lot of those same people will complain that the city didn't do enough planning and seeking alternatives when they see how much a project costs. Cutting a sidewalk through countless yards, driveways and roads is a big deal, with many obstacles.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 1:58 p.m.

That is BS


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 12:05 a.m.

15k to find out how to fill a sidewalk gap!? The amount of money wasted by Ann Arbor on planning/studying/blowing hot air is truly mind boggling. Why has public safety been cut to the bone if we have so much money to throw around?


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 11:04 p.m.

With all the administrators, planners and other overhead that the city has, why is an outside contract required to analyze options? What could the options be anyway. You're either going to build the sidewalk or not. You might only build a portion or install a traffic light so pedestrians can cross the street to the existing sidewalk. This isn't "rocket science".

Ann English

Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 1:29 a.m.

So city staff are going to make the decision about a sidewalk on the south side of Scio Church? Insiders, such as they are, know the people in the area better than outsiders. Occasional events are held for children at the Pittsfield Library Branch, and that calls for more parking spaces than the library has. So The Ice Cube parking lot accommodates the overflow during those events. There's already a pedestrian island on Oak Valley Drive, right near the library, for the children living in the subdivision to the south, but a sidewalk on the south side of Scio Church Road is all that is needed for children living to the north; they don't need to cross Oak Valley Drive or Scio Church Road itself at all to reach the Ice Cube or Pittsfield Library.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 2:43 a.m.

The article says "city staff will evaluate several alternatives", so it's not an outside contractor.


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 10:55 p.m.

Hopefully the sidewalk gap study doesn't cost as much as the achievement gap studies. The answer is always to hire more consultants.


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 10:15 p.m.

Sidewalk installation is included in the Dexter Ave reconstruction, east of Maple, and I strolled it the other afternoon. I almost felt like an authentic urbanite, but sadly nobody had written their names in the cement when it was wet. Not even any initials, or a heart pierced by Cupid's arrow. Kids today have so little respect for tradition.


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 10 p.m.

If your going to spend $15000, why not just do it. It's a sidewalk...not rocket science. Couldn't the city engineer have designed it and put it out for bid before spending any money? It shouldn't cost any money to get a price.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 1:12 a.m.

I think that's what the $15k is for. City engineers also have salaries - I imagine, though, that duties outside their normal day-to-day require approval for this much work. Designs, funding solutions (hopefully other than homeowner assessments), public meetings - it all takes time and money. I wonder if putting it out to bid would require the City to select one of the bids, which would have cost a lot more than $15k... I don't imagine they can just put out RFPs and retract them at will.

Tim Hornton

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 9:31 p.m.

I used to jog a lot over there. Its a good idea especiallycuz it creates a pathway across 94