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Darts & laurels: Sideways on sidewalks

Maybe not so simple

Workers break up the sidewalk and lay down bricks in downtown Salisbury on June 6, 2017. Kristi Craven/Salisbury Post

Dart to the difficulty of dealing with bureaucracy on something as simple as sidewalks. The Granite Quarry Board of Aldermen recently gave up what looked like a plum grant for this very reason.

The town was approved in October 2015 to receive $384,000 in federal transportation funds for a sidewalk project that was going to affect several neighborhoods. Officially, it was a Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality — CMAQ — grant. Requiring only a $56,000 local match, the funding sounded like manna from Washington.

Well, you know how that goes. As time went by, the project seemed to grow in complexity and troubles. Granite Quarry had to hire an engineering firm to make sure the town jumped through all the requisite hoops — environmental review, right-of-way authorization, state approval and so on.

A year-and-a-half and three project managers later, not a square foot of concrete has been poured and the town’s share of the cost was threatening to grow. Enough, board members decided Tuesday night, and who can blame them? It’s a shame, though, for the town to lose this opportunity.

Laurels to a different sidewalk story, one taking place in downtown Salisbury.  Though the removal of trees from the 100 block of West Innes Street was a travesty, the sidewalks themselves are a considerable improvement over the cracked and uneven surfaces that preceded them.

This was small potatoes compared to the Granite Quarry project — only $150,000 —   and it did not involve extending sidewalks into a new area.

The Salisbury sidewalks incorporate design elements from other sidewalk improvements in the downtown and use brick-like pavers as accents. The result is an attractive, even surface that should serve walkers well.

That’s what all this emphasis on sidewalks is about, anyway — encouraging people to walk instead of drive, to cut down on exhaust fumes (not to mention encourage fitness).

Salisbury used CMAQ grants for several recent sidewalk projects — in the mall area, on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and Bringle Ferry Road, for example. More are slated for Newsome and Old Wilkesboro roads. We take these walkways for granted, but a lot of work and money go into constructing and maintaining sidewalks.

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