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May 8, 2013

Dividing city funds pushes sidewalks aside

NORMAN — Norman needs sidewalks for its children to walk to school, for persons with disabilities to have access around town and for connectivity to other trails throughout the city, but even with the city investing $220,000 for sidewalk programs in the Fiscal Year 2014 budget, an estimated $2.9 million in requested sidewalk projects remain unfunded, council members learned Tuesday night as budget talks continued.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation will fund sidewalk projects to the tune of an additional $400,000 in the coming year, but that number does not include the unfunded $2.9 million in unfunded projects.

The city does not seek out sidewalk projects Public Works Director Shawn O’Leary said. Rather, Norman residents report trouble spots and put in requests. Those requests are enough to keep city staff scrambling for solutions and funding.

The FY 2014 ODOT-funded sidewalk projects include Boyd Street from Classen Boulevard to Barkley Avenue and McGee Drive from Highway 9 to Cherry Stone Street.

City-funded sidewalk projects for FY 2014 include the sidewalk program for schools and arterials costing $70,000 to put sidewalks on Berry Road from Rebecca Lane to Vine Street to serve Monroe Elementary.

A sidewalk accessibility project will put sidewalks along Morren Drive, 24th Avenue Southwest, Brooks, Lindsey Street and Biloxi Drive for an investment of $35,00.

Norman property owners will participate in a 50/50 funding split with the city to replace sidewalks citywide. Norman’s investment will be $65,000 for its half of those projects.

Finally, the downtown sidewalk project will cost the city $50,000.

City staff have ranked sidewalk projects to create a prioritization schedule. The ranking takes into consideration factors including:

· Distance to destination

· Presence of multiple attracting destinations

· Condition of the site from new to hazardous

· Whether another ADA compliant route is available

· Type of road

· Type of street crossings

· If there is a CART bus stop on the route

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