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Sidewalk Advisory Committee Impacts Residents Lives

Published on May 26, 2021

While the creation of the county’s Sidewalk Advisory Committee might have been be born of tragedy, its continuation is meant to protect the lives of local pedestrians.

It began with one person; a teenager who died after being struck by a van while walking to school one morning. There was no sidewalk along the road. The grieving family asked Polk County for a new sidewalk to give students a safer route to school.

Their request prompted the Board to create the Sidewalk Advisory Committee with resident appointees from each commission district that would work with county staff to prioritize new sidewalk projects for funding.

Most public requests for a new sidewalk reflect a personal experience or need. Frequently, residents tell stories of “near-misses” and “close-calls.” Just as often, requests are suggested with the safety of other people in mind.

Pick a sidewalk anywhere in Polk and you’ll see a story about people who wanted to give kids a better, safer walk to school. People who needed access to a transit stop to get to work, a doctor’s appointment or the grocery store. People looking for recreation and walking routes to parks and athletic fields.

Sidewalks are needed where people live, learn, work and play.

Need a sidewalk? We have people for that. Call Polk County at (863) 535-2230.

Sidewalk Advisory Committee Facts:

  • Since April 2015, the Sidewalk Advisory Committee has evaluated 319 requests for 161 miles of new sidewalk across Polk County.
  • In that time, 55 sidewalk projects totaling 19 miles and have been constructed at a cost of $7.3 million.
  • 13 new sidewalk projects (about 18 miles and $4 million) are still pending construction and are among the most complicated and costliest projects funded to date.
  • The average new sidewalk project is about 0.34 miles long and costs approximately $133,000.
  • Many SAC projects require extensive and costly new drainage installations or modifications to site new sidewalk in the available right-of-way area.
  • SAC project drainage costs frequently exceed the cost of the new sidewalk installed.
  • Curbing, ADA features, transit stop pads, aluminum handrail, pedestrian crosswalks and push-button beacons are among other costs associated with new sidewalk projects.