Cedar Rapids Man Wants City to Fill in "Gaps" in Sidewalks

By Dave Franzman, Reporter

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By Dave Franzman

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - A retired Cedar Rapids police officer has taken on a new campaign. He hopes to convince city council members, and the city engineering department, to fill some of the sidewalk “gaps” on busy streets on the southwest side.

Steve Valley said he noticed what he calls a real safety issue while helping an older senior with yard work. He’s watched portions of 12th Avenue and Wiley Blvd S.W. and noticed sidewalks suddenly end leaving pedestrians nowhere to go except through the grass or out in the street. Valley said it’s a definite safety hazard and concern.

“it’s never a good thing to have pedestrians walking in the street—too many things can happen,” Valley said.

Valley wrote e-mails to the council and engineering staff wondering why the city would allow such obvious gaps in a sidewalk system.

Cedar Rapids City Council member Chuck Swore, who serves on the city’s infrastructure committee, said one explanation for why sidewalks don’t always exist is development that occurred before requiring sidewalks was a part of city rules for any new construction. If property owners redevelop in the future, the city can make sidewalks a part of the permitting process.

But Sword said another issue right now is cost. Currently, the city’s policy is to split the cost of installing sidewalks 50-50 with property owners. One city engineer estimated the cost of sidewalk construction at $25-$30 per square yard. And the city receives many more complaints about proposed sidewalk project assessments than it does requests to add sidewalks where they don’t exist.

“Maybe they’re retired, don’t walk on the sidewalks anymore. So they decide they don’t need to have that assessment,” Swore said.

Swore said the city will consider Valley’s request to fill in the gaps in sidewalks on several major southwest side streets. But he’s not sure where that request sits compared to other sidewalk needs around the city.

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