Pedestrians will soon have an easier path to the businesses along the east side of South Highway 30 in Blair.
During its June 23 meeting, the Blair City Council approved a plan for city crews to install a total of 800 feet of sidewalk in three sections from just south of Bomgaars to Walmart. The estimated total cost of the project will be $7,000.
“Over the last year, you've started to see trails down through that grass because people are walking through there in large numbers and using the sidewalk in the area,” Public Works Director Al Schoemaker said. “We have a good bike trail on the other side. Unfortunately, we don't have really a good way other than all the way down to Kellie Drive to get them safely across the street.”
The highway was reconstructed into five lanes in 2004 and 2005. However, the project did not include sidewalks much past the Speedee Mart.
“Quite frankly, there wasn't a lot of development in that area,” Schoemaker said. “There was no need for it at that time.”
Since then, Walmart and the Hayden Place area was developed. Walmart, Schoemaker said, is one of the biggest draws for pedestrian traffic.
City Administrator Rod Storm said the city had budgeted $30,000 for the project and had considered potentially implementing a sidewalk district in which the businesses along the highway would be assessed to pay for half of the cost.
Storm said he asked Schoemaker to explore both options for the sidewalk district and city crews completing the work.
For a sidewalk district, Schoemaker told the council, the city would have to hire an engineer for designs, go through a formal bid process and hire a contractor. The cost would be $39,000.
Schoemaker said he and Public Works Superintendent Mark Hodson looked at the area in need, which is pretty flat and could easily be completed.
The $7,000 price would include the cost of materials and traffic control, as the outside lane would need to be closed while crews work. The utilities department would also need to relocate a fire hydrant.
The installation of the 5-foot wide sidewalk is expected to take about two weeks. Schoemaker said he will need to get a permit from the Nebraska Department of Transportation and work would be completed sometime between late July and Labor Day.