West Hersey Street could have sidewalks by next fall, thanks to a federal grant totaling more than half a million dollars.
The Rogue Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization last week approved $531,000 for the project, which would provide a sidewalk on the south side of West Hersey between Oak and North Main streets. No sidewalks currently exist on either side of the road.
The city will have to kick in about $54,500 in matching funds for the project, said Vicki Guarino, program manager of RVMPO's planning department.
The grant comes from the Federal Transit Administration's Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program. In Oregon, funding for projects that qualify for the program is administered by the Oregon Department of Transportation.
If approved by the City Council, the project will include better signage and improved crosswalks with traffic control devices to increase the route's safety for pedestrians, the grant application shows.
That approval could come as soon as tonight, if the council has time to consider the project at its regular meeting, said Public Works Director Mike Faught.
"The minute we have approval through the council we'll get this thing rolling," he said. "Ideally, it could be done within a year. "… If we did the engineering during the winter, we could easily get the construction done in the summer."
Faught was uncertain how much right of way the city would have to purchase, but said that at first glance, it didn't look to be much.
The city's grant application earmarked about $10,000 for that cost.
If more private land is identified within the project area, "that may complicate things a bit," Faught said.
A similar makeover next summer is slated for Walker Avenue, a road that hundreds of Ashland elementary and middle school students use every school day. The City Council approved a plan for building a new stretch of sidewalk and improved crossings there more than a year ago.
That project will also fund improvements to smooth out Walker Avenue's rough railroad crossing and will cost an estimated $743,000; $666,694 of that amount is available to the city through the CMAQ program.
"Anything we can do to encourage people to use modes of transportation other than a motor vehicle is a good thing," Faught said.
Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.