Sidewalks: What gets built and why?
The City has built almost 100 miles of new sidewalks since 2005. But more are needed citywide to make walking safe and appealing. How do decisions get made about which sidewalks to build or repair each year? Here are a few fascinating facts from the Public Works Pedestrian Program:
- Austinites can see the long-range needs on the Sidewalk Prioritization Map
- Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires accessibility for people in wheelchairs, etc., is a key reason behind those 100 miles of sidewalk projects (which included 2,500 new curb ramps).
- Places where lots of people are walking, and areas with safety issues, tend to make it to the top of the sidewalks project list.
- Sidewalks allowing children to walk safely to school are a top priority. Serving UT students along “The Drag” was also a big focus in 2013. Seven student-oriented projects were completed for the start of this school year; read about them here.
- Creating a connected network of sidewalks, trails, and bikeways is another priority.
- The City and Capital Metro are collaborating to upgrade sidewalks that serve bus stops – with over 300 areas done since 2011. Federal transit funding is allowing hundreds of others to get built over the next five years.
- Citizens help establish priorities! If you know of a place that needs a new sidewalk, or repairs, you can call 3-1-1 to make a request.
The ultimate goal is to encourage walking as a viable mode of transportation, and improve safety, accessibility and pedestrian mobility in Austin. Toward this end, the City recently completed a comprehensive project that included a detailed sidewalk inventory, documentation of current conditions, public input on sidewalk needs and issues, and establishing city sidewalk priorities. If you’ll walk them, we’ll work to build them!