Sidewalks. A simple concept, and one with near-universal benefits. Sidewalks add safety, connectivity and walkability to a neighborhood or city in general. Studies show that streets with sidewalks have fewer pedestrian accidents and promote higher levels of pedestrianism.
So, why does a quickly growing city like Raleigh have pervasively intermittent sidewalks in many areas? Is Raleigh growing too fast before taking care of old business first? Some residents of Fox Road, between Spring Forest and Sumner Blvd. argue that it is.
The story of sidewalks on Fox Road is a representative example of the state of sidewalks in Raleigh in general.
The Lundy and Cokley Families have paid, petitioned and voted for road improvements for nearly 29 years — sidewalks in particular for 10.
James Lundy, who owns property with his wife on Fox Road, said that “Our neighborhood is growing so fast, but the growth/improvements for Fox Road have been overlooked and delayed.”
In an area that has seen tremendous growth during the past two decades, including the Triangle Town Center, large-scale apartment complexes and leading retailers such as a Target and one of Raleigh’s last-remaining 24-hour Wal-Mart Supercenters, the absence of sidewalks in front of the Lundy and Cokley homes’ and other sections along Fox road has led to confusion and consternation.
Fortunately for these families, sidewalk completion for the area is on the horizon.
In March 2014, the Lundy and Cokley families presented their case directly to the City Council, where they found support.
Lundy, along with Edward Cokley noted at the time:
“There’s not adequate sidewalks for walking safely to and from the park, schools, and the Mall. Our mail box has been hit multiple times and the telephone pole hit twice.”
The addition of curbs and gutters, they argued, would help keep rainwater at bay from their yards. The City Council adopted Resolution 2014-889, directing improvements to Fox Road between Spring Forest Road and Sumner Blvd, which funds completion of sidewalks in this area.
Mrs. Janice Lundy is concerned for her son, a senior at Millbrook High School, who will have to sometimes walk to school, as Wake County eliminated bus transportation for many of the children in their neighborhood last year. “Someone is going to get killed,” James Lundy said — “the area is very dangerous, where the speed limit is 45, without sidewalks in places.”
Until 1993, Fox Road was a two-lane, gravel road. It was paved 6 years after a fee-in-lieu was paid for pavement, without curbs, gutters, and sidewalks.
Since that time, the Lundys have submitted several petitions without success, until the City Council made the project a city-funded initiative.
Now, Fox Road residents will have to wait while the city completes a design, public meeting, and bidding contract process.
Jimmy Upchurch, Raleigh’s Public Works Assessment Supervisor for the Design/Construction Division, projects, said that based on the current project schedule, the design and bidding phase will be complete in March 2016 and the final construction he projects will be complete by July 2017.
Upchurch explained that “there are a lot of components involved. It’s not a matter of funding, but getting the timeline and components right.”
Before sidewalk and curb and gutter construction, the city must survey, design and hold public meetings about the design, and advertise for bidding and contracts.
It must procure rights of way, move power lines, trees, fire hydrants, etc. Finally, according to the current schedule, in March 2016 a contractor will be awarded the project.
For the residents of Fox Road, the improvements can’t come too soon.
- 1986 Two-lane dirt road
- 1986 Fee-in-lieu from Dale and Joan Freeman
- 1993 Fox Road Paved
- 2009 Raleigh Street Improvement Petition
- 2011 Reactivated Raleigh Street Improvement Petition
- 2014 January: Petition submitted to City Council
- 2014 March: Case presented to City Council, council adopts Resolution 2014-889 directing improvements to Fox Road between Spring Forest and Sumner Blvd.
- 2016 March: Projected finishing of design, bidding and contract phase
- 2017 July: Projected construction completion of sidewalks