New sidewalks could show up along some Tyler roadways as early as next year.
The city of Tyler has received a $1.6 million 80-20 grant from the Texas Department of Transportation for sidewalk improvements, City Engineer Carter Delleney said.
According to project information from the city, the planned sidewalk improvements include parts of Garden Valley Road, West Gentry Parkway, West Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, South Beckham Avenue, Fifth Street, Mockingbird Lane and North Northwest Loop 323. Delleney said sidewalk improvements are also slated for some of Old Jacksonville Highway.
He said new sidewalks will be put in or existing sidewalk will be replaced in the project areas.
“It’ll give citizens the opportunity to get out and actually walk on a paved surface instead of walking in the grass or in the mud, so they’re walking on an improved surface,” he said.
He said sidewalks also will be accessible for those with disabilities.
These improvements are slated to start in 2015.
In the meantime, the city is working to finish other sidewalk improvements.
Delleney said planning for the citywide sidewalk improvements project began in 2010, when the Tyler Area Metropolitan Planning Organization created a study and pedestrian master plan, which became a guide for where sidewalks are most needed.
“What it focused on was connecting people from … where they live to where they work and from where they live to where their kids go to school. It focused on major corridors,” he said.
So he said that master plan started things, and then the Half Cent Sales Tax Corp. board and City Council allocated about $1.5 million to go toward sidewalk improvements.
The projects were broken into three contracts – A, B and C, he said, with improvements including putting in new sidewalk, connecting to existing or replacing sections of sidewalk “that aren’t passable” or have deteriorated and installing ramps.
He said one of the first improvement areas was from the Wayne D. Boshears Center for Exceptional Programs and then east along Front Street. According to maps, Contract A also included Houston Street and Vine/Palace Avenue, while Contract B included parts of Glenwood Boulevard.
Additionally, Delleney said sidewalk was put down on South Broadway Avenue in and around Bergfeld Park then also farther south close to Rose Hill Cemetery.
He said Contract C addresses areas on North Broadway Avenue and then on Bois D’arc and Erwin streets.
He said work is still being done on Contract C and estimated that Contract C will be complete in March.
Overall, city of Tyler Parks and Recreation Director Stephanie Rollings said the sidewalk improvements are beneficial in terms of fitness opportunity and access.
This “allows them (residents) to ditch the car and take a walk and connect to different areas of the city,” Ms. Rollings said.
She said the sidewalk improvements also provide “a safe place for people to be off the street and have pedestrian access.”