Sidewalk project is a good start

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Our Opinion

By Dave Bell

If you’ve walked much in the Vandalia city limits, you’re aware of the dire condition of some of the city’s sidewalks. Some are deteriorating. Some are being heaved up by tree roots. And some are non-existent.
The city of Vandalia is currently seeking bids for the replacement of sections of sidewalks in nine specific locations within the city. (See the Legal Notice on page 10 of today’s Leader-Union for full information.)
Locations involved in the project are: 627 W. Jefferson St. (Jefferson Street side), 627 W. Jefferson St. (Seventh Street side), 1028 N. Sixth St., the 500 block of N. Fifth St. (east side), between 331 and 403 N. Eighth St. (west side), 1415 W. St. Louis Ave., 802 N. Sixth St., 506 S. Sixth St. and 1008 W. St. Louis Ave.  
Though it’s easy to criticize the condition of the city’s sidewalks, we must remember that there must be hundreds of miles of sidewalks in the city. Maintaining them is a mammoth, ongoing project. And an expensive one.
Given the financial constraints under which the city is operating, we applaud city officials for taking on the current project. That bid calls for the replacement of 1,081 linear feet of sidewalks. That’s 4,444 square feet of 4-inch-thick concrete. Anyone who has replaced a driveway knows that such projects aren’t cheap.
Public Works Director John Moyer said that the areas chosen for this round were ones with no trees near the sidewalks because of the damage the roots eventually will do.
We encourage the city to continue the sidewalk replacement project as an ongoing part of the budget. It will make walking easier and safer for residents. And it will reduce the legal exposure for the city.
An associated project that’s really needed is the construction of a sidewalk to the western I-70 interchange area. Sidewalks are mighty hard to find west of Coles Street, and none of the major east-west streets going to the western interchange area has sidewalks – not Randolph, not Jefferson, not Fillmore and not Veterans.
With the amount of foot and bike traffic going to that part of town (for the YMCA, for Kaskaskia College and for the Walmart-area shopping district) it’s amazing we haven’t had a serious car-pedestrian or car-bike accident.
Coming up with a pedestrian path of some sort (whether paved or of some other surface to start with) must be a priority for the city. We must have at least one of the major arterial streets that offers some level of safety for pedestrians and bikers.
The current project is a good start. But we must not forget the big-picture sidewalk needs of the city.