Construction began this past week to extend sidewalks along South Bennett Street to increase the town’s walkability.
The two-block stretch from West Massachusetts Avenue to West Illinois Avenue will receive sidewalks, storm drainage infrastructure, and a curb and gutter.
“After this phase, both sides of S. Bennett St. (except for a half block at W. Massachusetts Ave.) will have sidewalk down to W. Illinois Avenue,” Project Manager Marc Clark wrote in an email to The Pilot.
The aim is to connect the downtown area to Morganton Road via Bennett Street. Clark wrote that the sidewalks will eventually extend to West Wisconsin Avenue along both sides and then switch to one side up to Morganton Road.
“Having new sidewalk and curb & gutter along the route will give the street a more clean, finished look and will help increase/promote pedestrian mobility in that corridor and around town in general,” Clark wrote.
The work will happen in phases along the roadway, with periodic road closures as the work progresses. Road closure information can be found on the town’s website, under the “Town Services” tab.
The town will also install a small section of sidewalk at the intersection of West Morganton Road with Old U.S. 1 — in front of Red’s Corner. It will connect Red’s to an existing sidewalk system across Morganton Road, by The Sly Fox Pub.
“Pedestrian safety was absolutely the driving factor for the Town’s decision to advance this project. That area is an active pedestrian district with the ball fields at Memorial Park, events at the Shaw House, and other nearby restaurants, shops, and destinations,” Assistant Town Manager Jessica Roth shared in an email.
“The opening of Red’s Corner and The Rec Room have brought even more pedestrian activity to that area and it is functioning like downtown Southern Pines, where people park in one location and then walk to multiple destinations, crossing W. Morganton Road.”
Town is in contact with the N.C. Department of Transportation about creating a crosswalk at this intersection because it controls Morganton Road. The department previously told the town that a crosswalk could only be added if sidewalk ramps were in place to ensure the safe movement of people across the road.
“We are hopeful that NCDOT will also consider a crosswalk signal as an added safety feature at that busy intersection,” Roth wrote.
A crosswalk was previously considered across Old U.S. 1, from Red’s towards the Bank of America parking lot, but it was considered a poor location.
“Combined with being quite long, traversing multiple lanes, it’s at a very bad angle,” Clark wrote.
Single lane closures are most likely when work begins on West Morganton Road. The overall project is anticipated to take three months to complete.
The town is funding the project and working with Sandhills Contractor Inc, out of Sanford. Its contract is just shy of $300,000. The project was approved last year by the council.
How many people really use these sidewalks? What is the cost to taxpayers per pedestrian per year. My guess is a huge number.
A lot of people use these sidewalks and as a SP resident, I'm happy my taxes are going to build more. :)
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