By Heather Mullinix
A project to provide sidewalks for students walking to Martin Elementary Schools could move forward, with the matter to be placed on the Crossville City Council’s agenda for March.
“It’s a great project, but we don’t know the costs,” City Manager Bruce Wyatt told the council in a work session Thursday. “Some good, clear direction on how to proceed would be good. We need to have a good, large figure; a worst case scenario, you’re willing to spend and feel comfortable we can get it done.”
The city received a $250,000 grant through the federal Safe Routes to School program in 2010 to construct sidewalks on the two streets. The grant is administered by the Tennessee Department of Transportation and a portion, $25,000, is retained for education purposes.
A survey conducted as part of the grant application found less than 10 percent of students at Martin Elementary walked or biked to school. The narrowness of the roadways, steep slopes adjacent to the roads and absence of sidewalks made walking and biking hazardous for students.
The proposed project would construct a sidewalk down one side of each street, with the construction costs paid by the grant. The city, however, is responsible for any utility relocations, acquiring right of way for the sidewalks and any surveys necessary. The proposal calls for the Myrtle Ave. sidewalk to be constructed on the north side of the street, extending to Brookside Dr. On Fourth St., the sidewalk would extend to Roberts Dr., if enough funding is available.
“There’s more project than there is money,” said Tim Begley, city engineer. “It’s been our opinion we would do all of Myrtle and then shorten up Fourth St. if it was not in budget.”
Myrtle Ave. presents challenges with a narrow road and obstacles, including utility poles, fences and mailboxes. Begley said base cost for land acquisition at about $22,000 on Myrtle Ave. and $33,000 on Fourth St., not including any possible damages such as replacement of fences. Volunteer Energy Cooperative will move any of its utility poles located in the right of way, but those on private property would be moved for a fee, with a total projected cost of $14,000.
“Typically we have 50 feet of right of way from the center of the road. We don’t have that on Myrtle or Fourth St.,” Begley said.
With curb, gutters, a grass section and five-foot sidewalk, the city will need about eight feet of right of way for the project.
Many on the council wondered if property owners would consider donating the right of way to the city for the project, noting a sidewalk can be an enhancement to their property values.
Begley said he agreed, but it was likely some property owners may not agree to donate property or agree with the proposed price per square foot.
The council discussed moving the proposed project from the north side of Fourth St. to the south side, allowing it to tie into an existing sidewalk at the intersection of Myrtle Ave. and Fourth St. That would increase engineering costs and survey costs and could result in higher estimates for right of way acquisition.
Barry Fields, of Fields Engineering, who designed the project, said, “In my opinion, there would be less disruption if that was on the opposite side of the road. It would make the intersection more safe, too. I’m amazed at the amount of traffic on those streets.”
Councilman Pete Souza said, “The first step is to meet with all the owners and help them understand the project and what we’re doing.”
Councilman Jesse Kerley said he felt a public meeting with the owners along the two streets needed to take place before the council discussed the matter further in meetings. Mayor J.H. Graham III suggested calling a public hearing on the project at 4:30 p.m. March 12 prior to the regularly scheduled council meeting. The council will address the matter further during the meeting, including consideration of a change to the contract with Field to move the Fourth St. sidewalk to the south side of the street.