Dallas City Council members on Monday praised plans to begin tackling a $2 billion backlog of sidewalk problems but also suggested ways to put more money on the task.
The new plan calls for $15 million spent over the next 3 years in 12 high-priority target areas.
One of those is around Hampton Road and Illinois Avenue, where heaving sidewalks are common. They are treacherous for handicapped people and a trip hazard for everyone.
“I have tripped. I have tripped. I look at that a lot and I wonder where is the tax money going,” said resident Donald Ray Singleton.
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Passengers at the Hampton Road DART rail station saw the plan for sidewalk improvements in their area Monday.
“I think it would be a good idea if they fixed it. It would be a great idea. It would help a lot,” said resident Lily Ojeda.
A map of the Hampton-Illinois Sidewalk Priority Focus area is filled with yellow marks for side streets with sidewalk problems, red lines for full sidewalk replacement planned along the two major streets and red dashed lines for streets where there are no sidewalks at all, including Chalmers Street.
Resident Fernando Velasquez said the lack of sidewalks is dangerous for kids who play there.
“The cars going too fast, driving too fast on this street,” he said.
The Dallas plan still ignores most of the $2 billion sidewalk problem in the rest of the city, but the 12 priority areas were selected based on 6 criteria with boosting safety and ways to avoid the use of cars at the top of the list.
“You put some sidewalks in, they're going to walk where? Because there are no jobs,” Council Member Carolyn Arnold said.
She suggested targeting sidewalks to promote jobs and economic development, which could also boost city taxes and revenue to pay for more sidewalks.
Council Member Jaynie Schultz said the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) agency should pay for more of the sidewalk expense adjacent to stations, bus stops and routes.
“I'd love to see a discussion of DART helping fund some of this public safety of sidewalks,” Schultz said.
A city staff member said DART had been involved in the planning of sidewalk improvements adjacent to stations and bus stops, but so far had not been asked to pay for it.
“I think that DART has its own problems,” DART passenger Andy Nolen said.
Studying the Hampton-Illinois sidewalk plan, however, Nolen agreed the improvements highlighted in the plan are needed.
As Dallas looks for more sidewalk money to reverse years of neglect, the improvements finally getting started now will take years longer.
Residential property owners are asked to help pay for Dallas sidewalk maintenance but in these 12 target areas for the new sidewalk plan, the city will pay the full cost, Council Member Paula Blackmon said.
The plan is the result of a year of work by city staff and consultants.
Councilman Paul Ridley said he was pleased to hear that details of the plan are available online.
“I really want to compliment you for providing that information to the community,” Ridley said.
This is the complete report with planned spending for each of the 12 focus areas.