Janesville57.7°

Sidewalk committee dives into details

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
June 7, 2012
— Members of the Janesville sidewalk committee are finding that decisions often lead to more questions.

If they believe some sidewalks are needed around schools for safety, as most members tentatively have agreed, questions that arise include:


-- How far should children be expected to walk?


-- Should schools, including UW-Rock County, have sidewalks within different distances based the ages of the children?


-- Should areas around the Wisconsin School for the Blind and the Visually Impaired get extra scrutiny?


If sidewalks should provide access to bus stops, as some committee members have agreed, then:


-- What about the fact that buses can stop at any corner in residential areas to pick up passengers if it is safe to do so?


-- What happens when bus routes change?


If bike trails double as sidewalks, then:


-- What if there are no sidewalks leading to the bike trail?


-- Should the city plow the bike trails all winter?


Committee members continue to work on criteria it can use to make recommendations to the city council on a seven-year sidewalk plan the council created in 2008. The plan was halted in its second phase after a group of residents formed and urged council members to take another look at the plan.


Some criteria being considered by the sidewalk committee include:


-- Proximity to schools.


-- Population density.


-- Access to bike trails.


-- Street classification, such as whether it is a major or minor arterial street, a collector street or a local street.


The committee is expected to prioritize the criteria.


Other issues could be considered at a secondary level, such as whether sidewalks might not be reasonable because of cost, neighborhood history or residents' expectations.


Committee members have touched on sidewalk funding. The seven-year plan assesses abutting property owners, but that could be up for discussion, as well.


The committee has until July 9 to make a recommendation to the city council on the 2012 phase of the program. It will then continue working on future phases.


PUBLIC CAN SPEAK

Sidewalk committee members charged with assessing the city's seven-year sidewalk program will allow residents a 10-minute window to speak at the end of meetings.


The next two scheduled meetings are 2:30 p.m. Monday and 2:30 p.m. Wednesday in Room 416 of City Hall, 18 N. Jackson St.


The committee will ask residents to speak only on issues discussed at that meeting, with no more than two minutes per person.


Members will discourage residents from discussing the merits of putting sidewalks in front of their individual homes.


Residents can email sidewalk committee members at sidewalkcommittee@ci.janesville.wi.us.

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