The Raleigh City Council backpedaled today on its previous decision to cancel a sidewalk project for Oxford Road and voted instead to move forward with the project after a strong recommendation from the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Board.
The project was five years and over $20,000 in the making when council member Stef Mendell pushed to kill it in January, citing concerns from a handful of neighbors worried the sidewalk would damage trees in the adjacent Fallon Park. The road is heavily trafficked by pedestrians and is close to Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School and a greenway.
Many in the neighborhood thought the project was a no-brainer and were shocked when the council suddenly voted to cancel it. After a backlash—prompted by the INDY’s reporting—Mendell asked BPAC to review the best options for safety and connectivity in the area.
BPAC, perhaps unsurprisingly, told the council Tuesday to build the sidewalk. Specifically, the commission suggested building the sidewalk exactly as the city’s staff initially recommended. Additionally, BPAC asked for an arborist to join the project to prevent tree damage within the park and sought to slightly extend the sidewalk to connect it with an existing sidewalk on Kenmore Drive. The commission also wants the city to look into further extending the sidewalk to Five Points and adding bike lanes.
“You obviously have been vindicated because [BPAC] chose the recommendation that was initially presented,” council member Corey Branch told city transportation planner Eric Lamb.
Council member Kay Crowder initially tried to delay the vote while the council reviews how its sidewalk petition process is conducted—and Mendell agreed—but council members Nicole Stewart and Russ Stephenson said they were ready to vote in favor of the sidewalk now.
“I think what is proposed has the absolute least impacts of anything I’ve heard,” Stephenson said, though the BPAC proposal is virtually identical to the sidewalk he rejected months ago.
Contact staff writer Leigh Tauss at email@example.com.
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