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Eldon to improve bicycle, pedestrian network

Eldon to improve bicycle, pedestrian network

May 9th, 2018 by Allen Fennewald in Local News

The Eldon Board of Aldermen on Tuesday authorized an agreement between the city, Capital Regional Medical Center and Alta Planning + Design, Inc. to create a bicycle and pedestrian plan intended to improve the safety and enjoyment of people walking or biking throughout the city.

According to agreement documents, Alta Planning + Design, Inc. will research hazards, barriers and opportunities for improved conditions and connectivity along key bicycle and pedestrian routes. The consulting company began its research Feb. 12 and is scheduled to continue until May 31. Capital Regional Medical Center will fund the project through a grant for as much as $21,192.23.

The project will attempt to shorten pedestrian crossing distances, make non-motorized transportation users more visible and predictable, and reduce conflicts with motorized vehicles. The Alta team will identify common intersection enhancements and provide design guidance to ensure they occur on key corridors within the recommended network.

The company has produced similar plans for major cities across the U.S. such as Berkeley, California; Salt Lake City, Utah; El Paso, Texas; and Seattle, Washington.

"We will use our team and innovative tools to address the desire to accommodate all roadway users on complete streets for improved comfort and safety," the company stated in the agreement. The company will highlight important intersections, popular destinations and list reasons for any proposed changes.

A steering committee comprised of about 10 local representatives was established to discuss issues like the vision, goals and timeline of the project. The company also recommends the city engage residents for input on the goals, challenges and likely successes and other factors that could come result from the endeavor.

Lacking safe and accessible bicycling and pedestrian routes were listed as among the main public health concerns April 30 at a Community Input Session hosted by the Miller County Health Center and Eldon United.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration, walking and cycling are more common in many small towns and rural communities than in urban areas. However, many small and rural communities are located on roadways built for high-speed traffic, which makes walking and bicycling less safe and uncomfortable. The administration stated these rural roadways can be retrofitted and redesigned to provide a transportation network that better serves the safety, health and economic interests of the community.

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In other business:

Alderman Bryon Hull was named mayor pro tem and will function as Eldon mayor when Mayor Larry Henderson is unavailable to serve in the position. City Attorney Mark Warren and City Clerk Tara Berreth were reappointed and sworn in to their respective positions. Reappointed Eldon Prosecutor Richard Holtmeyer was not in attendance and will be sworn in at a later date.

Henderson said he has received complaints about people blowing grass debris into the streets, which is not allowed under city ordinances and creates an unsafe roadway for cyclists. He asked residents to be mindful of where they leave their yard trimmings and for city officials to inform frequent offenders of these ordinance violations.

A motion was passed to facilitate as much as $20,000 from the city's wastewater reserve of about $1.5 million to replace or repair stormwater drainage systems in the alley near the Eldon Public Library which were channeling stormwater into the city's sanitary sewer system.

Alderman Larry LaDuke said the city's reserve funds have been improving, and he hopes repairing the stormwater drainage system will alleviate part of the wastewater treatment plant's over-capacity issues. The plant is currently being studied for necessary expansion, repairs and improvements.