City News

Charlotte changes sidewalk plans

A four-year battle over sidewalks in one south Charlotte neighborhood has ended with the city deciding it will complete only a portion of the originally proposed project.

The controversial proposal brewing in the Madison Park neighborhood had city officials re-evaluating how they decide which roads get sidewalks.

Madison Park is a neighborhood with more than 2,200 homes. The city decided four years ago to put sidewalks on Murrayhill Road because it is a major neighborhood thoroughfare and a primary route for getting to Pinewood Elementary and some nearby parks.

The city recently notified residents that it would omit the final block of the 11/2-mile project. The walkways will stretch along Murrayhill from East Woodlawn Road to Lamont Drive. The city will not put sidewalks in the final block, from Lamont Drive to Wedgewood Drive.

Previously, the city's practice had been to approve sidewalks along an entire stretch of road, even if certain segments of the road were less-traveled. Supporters of the practice say it creates a more consistent look through a neighborhood and takes into account the area's future growth.

In Madison Park, however, a group of about 50 residents spent four years protesting such a plan. They argued that such paving can be wasteful and costly. If a street has less traffic at one end, they said, that section shouldn't get sidewalks.

The residents drew up petitions, spoke at City Council meetings and wrote letters to council members. Transportation officials had numerous meetings with residents. The protest set the group against the Madison Park neighborhood association, which supported the sidewalks.

The Murrayhill decision now opens the door for officials to omit low-traffic segments of sidewalk plans in other parts of the city.

City officials said they determined sidewalks were not necessary in the final block of Murrayhill because it sees significantly less traffic than the other blocks. In a report on the project, transportation officials noted that the majority of residents in the final block were opposed to the sidewalks.

The project now moves to the design phase and is expected to go to the City Council for a construction contract in December 2009. Construction is expected to be complete in summer 2010.