The council agreed Wednesday to the least expensive solution — to extend Brown Avenue and the Polk Street sidewalk at a cost of $47,000.
The issue was a lack of a crosswalk from Brown Avenue across Polk Street, where students of West Side Elementary school were dodging high volumes of traffic.
City Engineer Jim Wilgus told the council on May 29 that Polk Street has a speed limit of 35 mph, but with commuter traffic and hills on either side of the block, cars race down the road.
Wilgus said a survey showed 1,500 vehicles a day were traveling through that area at speeds between 42 and 46 mph.
He advised the council that adding a crosswalk would require warning lights for drivers, or it would only further endanger pedestrians.
The council approved a project that will connect the dead-end of Brown Avenue to Polk Street, and continue a sidewalk down Polk Street to the corner of Cleburne Avenue, which has an existing crosswalk where traffic must stop.
There were two options presented to council for a mid-block crossing.
One involved installing an island in the middle of Polk Street that would have cost $80,000.
The most expensive option added a pedestrian beacon, which is a large metal arch over the road with signs and signal lights at a cost of $167,000.
The third option, which was the one approved, will cost $47,000 from 2011 SPLOST funds, including an extension of Brown Avenue for $25,000 and the Polk Street sidewalk for $22,000. Wilgus said the next step is to stake the path for the undeveloped portion of Brown Avenue to give residents a chance to ask for adjustments.
The walkway will curve around trees, fences, and utility poles that would add to the cost if removed or relocated, according Wilgus’s report.
Wilgus said he hopes to start construction on both sidewalks in August, and it should only take a couple of weeks. He plans to complete the entire project using city staff.
Residents of the Browns Park housing subdivision, which is off Morrison Street and has three homes on Brown Avenue, addressed the council May 29.
Thatcher Young, who lives at one of the subdivision’s 19 homes, said pedestrian safety for the neighborhood is a quality of life issue for residents who want full access to events in Marietta’s downtown. “Citizens love the village feel,” he said.
Rodney Scharples, who is the president of Browns Park Homeowners Association Inc. and lives at 20 Morrison Street, said half of the subdivision’s families have young kids that will be attending nearby schools for a decade.
The new access will help students walking not only to West Side Elementary School, but also Marietta Middle School further down Polk Street, Scharples said.
Young said the extra 1,000 feet of walking distance from Brown Avenue to the corner of Cleburne Avenue and back to the elementary school will not be a problem for his family.
Young told the council the subtle sidewalk will be better than a large unsightly crossing that would have taken away from the block’s natural setting.
Scharples said the council listened to what the people wanted and picked a delicate solution. “Option three was a much more holistic and broader view,” he said.
Scharples, who is originally from Rhode Island and moved to Georgia in 1998, said the outcome will benefit Browns Park residents, the surrounding neighborhood, and the city. “This has all become a win, win, win,” he said.
Scharples said the Square is only four to five blocks away from the Browns Park subdivision. He said the city has expressed an intention to add sidewalks leading to downtown. He said it is his long-term priority to increase access with sidewalks on both sides of Whitlock Avenue.
Approximately $4 million of the proposed $35 million bond issue being put before Marietta voters in November is to be used for sidewalks, street lamps and other improvements along Whitlock Avenue.