School-aged children — who are pedestrians by default — and others who walk near Shoreline schools will soon have sidewalks for traveling to and fro.
Beginning in June, sidewalks are expected to be constructed near several schools after the City Council earmarked $900,000 for safety improvements. It is anticipated that all work will be completed by August, in time for the new school year.
The city’s sidewalk program, which is part of the Capital Improvement Plan, indicates $5.4 million will be used to construct sidewalks throughout the city during the next six years.
“We gave direction to staff to move forward with several different projects that they had been working on developing,” said Deputy Mayor Maggie Fimia. “We have tremendous walkway needs.”
In every resident survey the city has issued, Fimia said, safe walkways prevailed as a high priority. Although new developers are responsible for building sidewalks in front of property, she said the rest of the city can’t wait for sidewalks.
City staff identified six routes to be completed this summer, two of which will be constructed only if enough money is available. Two recommended routes are near Einstein Middle School, a third is near Shorewood High School and St. Luke Elementary and a fourth is by Ridgecrest Elementary School. One possible additive route is near Echo Lake Elementary School and another near Shorewood High School.
“We didn’t want to under design and have money left over that we could have been building with,” said Jon Jordan, capital projects manager. “So we designed or created conceptual plans for six routes.”
The areas where the construction will occur were identified through public input and priority areas identified in the Transportation Master Plan. The project has gone out to bid, but a construction contract has not yet been approved.
The project design is conceptual at this point, Jordan said. At Council’s direction, staff is evaluating ways to stretch tax dollars and increase the number of lineal feet of sidewalks, he said. As the standard curb-gutter-sidewalk configuration can be expensive, alternatives are being considered such as concrete curbs with asphalt sidewalks and separated pathways. Staff hope to obtain council authorization to award the construction contract in May.
“We have a limited budget so we are putting bids out there to see how many routes we can build this year,” Jordan said.
Public outreach is a priority, Jordan said, and has included meetings between city staff and the school superintendent, principals and PTA members. Additional meetings are currently being arranged at schools near the anticipated sidewalk routes.
Although Shoreline is a relatively new city, its infrastructure is not, according to staff documents. Shoreline neighborhoods were built to rural standards, primarily without sidewalks or even walkways. Only about one-third of the city’s arterials and even fewer residential streets have sidewalks.