Sidewalk study shows needs in school zones

Sandra Clark

Mayor Madeline Rogero called for $2.7 million for sidewalks and crosswalks across the city, when she presented her budget last week, including $750,000 for sidewalks within school Parental Responsibility Zones and another $750,000 for new sidewalk construction.

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett will present his budget Monday, May 9. We’ll see then what he proposes.

Regardless, sidewalks present a dilemma – residents at planning meetings consistently request them; some like those in West Hills even rally at 7 a.m. to demonstrate the need for sidewalks.

Yet sidewalks are a low budget priority for decision-makers, almost at the bottom of the wants and needs list.

A January 2014 study prepared for the Knox County Department of Engineering and Public Works by Transportation Consultants Inc. identified locations within the county having the greatest potential and actual usage of walk-to-school trips.

The study showed 22,322 of Knox County’s 59,276 students live within the Parental Responsibility Zones where bus transportation is not provided.

Using a complex formula, planners determined the top schools for walkers if sidewalks were installed.

These are, in order: Cedar Bluff Elementary, Londsdale Elementary, Blue Grass Elementary, Belle Morris Elementary, Norwood Elementary, Powell Elementary, Powell High School and Brickey-McCloud Elementary.

“Using this knowledge about where the greatest pedestrian demand and/or potential exists should provide a focused starting point for pedestrian project planning,” the report concluded.

Seems sensible, yet Knox County has built sidewalks over the past 3-4 years at Halls Elementary and from Karns Elementary to Karns Middle – both areas where political pressure was intense and neither was on the priority list.

Just a thought, but why not drop by to chat with Burchett at one of his nine meetings over two days following his budget presentation. And we dare you to walk:

Monday, May 9:

  • Budget presentation, 9 a.m., City County Building
  • South Knoxville Senior Center, 11:30 a.m., 6729 Martel Lane
  • Strang Senior Center, 1:30 p.m., 109 Lovell Road
  • Halls Senior Center, 2:45 p.m., 4405 Crippen Road
  • Carter Senior Center, 4 p.m., 9040 Asheville Highway
  • Burlington Branch Library, 5:30 p.m., 4614 Asheville Highway

Tuesday, May 10:

  • Karns Senior Center, 1 p.m., 8042 Oak Ridge Highway
  • Cedar Bluff Library, 2 p.m., 9045 Cross Park Drive
  • Bearden Library, 3 p.m., 100 Golfclub Road
  • Fountain City Library, 4 p.m., 5300 Stanton Road

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