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Fed Money Stimulates DC Sidewalk Construction

One of the biggest improvements in U.S. transportation during the past decade has been the growing recognition among engineers that lots of people want to walk and they need to do it safely.

Washington just completed its master plan for pedestrians. It contains guidelines that include fancy designs for intersections, medians and crosswalks, but one of its most basic recommendations is this: Build sidewalks where there aren't any.

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty announced today that the District is going to use $4 million in federal stimulus money to do that, closing some of the 200 miles of missing links in the city's sidewalk system.

The target streets for the construction program getting underway this summer are in every ward. You can see a list here. There are too many streets to name. Just some examples: a couple blocks of Irving Street, 42nd Street, Brandywine Street; lots of West Virginia Avenue, some of Southern Avenue and some of Mississippi Avenue. It's probably about 15 miles of sidewalks altogether.

The District says the list of target streets was made by matching medium and high pedestrian activity areas with missing sidewalk locations and reviewing comments received from Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners and residents.

These are mostly neighborhood streets. They may be pathways to commercial areas, bus stops, schools, or recreation centers. So travel along those routes is a safety issue. But because money is scarce, sidewalk construction and many of the other construction recommendations in the pedestrian plan are meant to be done over a decade, usually in conjunction with planned reconstruction of a street, intersection or block.

The stimulus money speeds things up, allowing the District to go ahead and build new sidewalks just for the sake of building new sidewalks rather than waiting to tie that into some larger project.

By Robert Thomson  |  June 12, 2009; 4:19 PM ET
Categories:  Safety  | Tags: DDOT, Fenty, Obama Administration, sidewalks  
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Also worth noting that this is about access for the handicapped. A sloping, uneven grassy path may be charming to many, but it's a no-travel zone for someone in a wheelchair. Kudos to DDOT for taking this important stand.

Posted by: IHeartDC | June 12, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

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