The completion of a sidewalk later this year will increase safety and connectivity for joggers, school children and dog-walkers in the area, Morrisville officials said.
Work on a 1,800-foot-long stretch of sidewalk along Church Street, between Treybrooke Drive and the existing sidewalk behind Cedar Fork Elementary School, will likely begin this spring, said Benjamin Howell, the town’s transportation director.
It will complete a 1.9-mile loop on Church Street and Town Hall Drive between McCrimmon Parkway to the north and Treybrooke Drive in the south. There will be a crosswalk at Treybrooke Drive across Church Street to nearby apartments.
The loop also will connect to the Indian Creek Greenway off Town Hall Drive and the future Shiloh South Greenway, under construction off McCrimmon Parkway.
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“When you can do a loop, that increases safety,” said Ben Hitchings, Morrisville’s planning director.
The final part of the sidewalk, which is one-third of a mile, will cost close to $500,000 dollars to build, although Wake County is paying 80 percent of the cost through a community development block grant.
The town of Morrisville is paying about $93,000 toward the segment, which is expected to be finished by September.
Students from Cedar Fork Elementary School are allowed to walk to and from school if they live within a mile of school. It’s unclear how many students walk.
The sidewalk also will connect Sterling Montessori Academy & Charter School to the loop, although executive director Bill Zajic said no students at the school take advantage of the existing sidewalks.
“They all come in with their parents or in carpools,” he said. “Nobody walks.”
The town has focused recently on pedestrian accessibility, building more sidewalks and greenways, and connecting into Cary’s sidewalk and greenway system to give people longer routes and more options.
The town recently completed a short sidewalk section on N.C. 54, from Litchin Boulevard to just north of N.C. 540, at a cost to the town of about $51,000.
A presentation at the town council’s annual retreat last weekend included 21 sidewalk segments that soon will be prioritized for future construction.
Mayor Mark Stohlman has said many of them are shorter segments that should be an easy way to improve the quality of life for residents.
“There are places all over Morrisville where you walk and then it just ends,” Stohlman said. “And that’s because it hits a property that hasn’t been developed in 20 years. So we are looking at those gaps.”
A recent meeting on the Church Street sidewalk loop was held just a few hundred feet from Town Hall, at the Historic Christian Church. There were no sidewalks or crosswalks in sight.
Two town employees stood outside and directed traffic to help meeting attendees cross the road from the parking lot to the meeting.
Several town leaders acknowledged that irony, although a plan is already underway to build a sidewalk connecting the Historic Christian Church with Page Street, on the east side of Church Street.
That will cost the town about $112,000. Like the other sidewalk projects, most of the total cost is being absorbed by a grant.
As the town prioritizes sidewalks and greenways, Stohlman said, cost and grants will be a major factor in how they get built.
Howell, the transportation director, told the council at the retreat that priorities will also include factors like public input.
Public input could be formal, from calls and emails to the town, or informal – like studying place where pedestrians have worn paths in the dirt alongside sidewalk-less roads.
“We’ll look at where people are walking that’s maybe not the safest area, would sidewalks make it safer,” Howell said.