Earlier this month, Troy Schulte, the KCMO city manager, officially proposed an $800m general obligation bond to the city council. As proposed the city will use bond proceeds over the course of 20 years to repair and upgrade the city’s infrastructure.
Over a series of several blog posts we will outline our plan for how this bond funding could be used to make Kansas City a better place to walk and bike. In this post we will focus on sidewalks.
G.O. Bond Recommendation 4 – Implement and fund a comprehensive sidewalk program
The G.O. Bond is an opportunity to begin pecking away at the estimated $1billion backlog of sidewalk repairs and infill. The city has thousands of miles of existing sidewalks many of which are in disrepair. And still thousands of additional miles of streets have no sidewalks. A performance audit conducted by the city auditor’s office in 2006 concluded that the city’s sidewalk program was fundamentally flawed. Ten years later the city still has not addressed the findings from that report.
A significant infusion of funding into a sidewalk program from the bond should launch a systematic approach to sidewalk maintenance, the 2006 audit’s primary criticism. But perhaps even more important, the financial burden of sidewalk upkeep should be taken off of the backs of homeowners.
As the ballot language for the bond takes shape, BikewalkKC urges city council to very clearly set aside funding to address the deplorable state of the city’s sidewalks.
- Repair and build new sidewalks by immediately developing a 5-year priority sidewalk network at no cost to homeowners
- Commission a pedestrian master plan that establishes a framework for long-range walkability decisions
- Set an aggressive timeline for addressing the 2100 street corners in need of ADA improvements
- Develop an annual sidewalk improvement plan using the master plan prioritization framework
- Update the pedestrian master plan every 5 years
- Set aside $15m per year of bond proceeds to implement recommendations from pedestrian master plan
Below are some good examples of how other cities manage their sidewalks and other walkability improvements.
Wichita Pedestrian Master Plan – Sets a vision for walkability and prioritized projects in the Emerald City.
Seattle – The Capital Improvement Plan budgets for projects based on recommendations from the city’s pedestrian and bicycle master plans.
Wyandotte County Sidewalk and Trail Master Plan – guides capital improvements process by establishing a prioritization framework for sidewalks and trails.
Memphis Pedestrian Action Plan – Although not a full master plan, this document helped establish a more systematic approach to managing sidewalks. Memphis is very similar to Kansas City in terms of land area and sidewalk system.