Editorial: Cut Back On Planned Sidewalks

By / Editorials / Wednesday, 20 July 2016 04:00

Managing Editor

The Carolina Beach Town Council should reconsider adding sidewalks in some or all of the Phase B infrastructure project.
The project area covered in Phase B is from 5th Street in the West to the Ocean and from Harper Ave in the North to the Carolina Beach Lake in the South on Atlanta Avenue. (See report on page 1-A).
Those streets are not heavily utilized by the public and don't require sidewalks on roads that are already close to the front of some houses.
Carolina Beach installed sidewalks throughout the downtown area many decades ago. Since that time those sidewalks have aged, look less than desirable and are in need of serious repair. Yet those sidewalks go unattended year after year because other expenses take priority or the repairs are just too expensive. Only recently did they begin a multi-million dollar project to begin replacing them.
What confidence can the Town instill in the public to assure additional sidewalks will not fall victim to the same long-term neglect the Town has exhibited for sidewalks over the years?
The original intent of adding sidewalks in the Phase B plan was to make it safer by getting pedestrians off the street away from traffic. Elected leaders will claim it's to promote safe routes to the Carolina Beach Elementary School.
I've been covering this Island for a little over 16 years (lived here longer) and I've never heard of a kid being killed or seriously injured by a vehicle while walking or biking to school.  
Putting sidewalks along thoroughfares with heavy vehicle traffic makes sense. It provides a safe area for people to walk.
Putting sidewalks on both sides of quiet residential streets that have very low traffic counts in comparison to Lake Park Blvd, Cape Fear Blvd or other high traffic thoroughfares is a waste of money.
I live in a subdivision in Carolina Beach and the sidewalks are cracked and weathered in a lot of areas. The Town's not likely to replace them anytime soon.
Sure, it looks good on paper when designing big infrastructure projects, but in this case sidewalks are not a necessity. They're overkill. A luxury. Not a necessity.
Once the long term infrastructure projects in the Carolina Beach area are finished, this Town will have several miles of new asphalt bike paths and sidewalks in addition to what they haven't been able to maintain over the last 40 or more years.
Perhaps adjusting the width of the streets in the project area to slightly increase the area along the side of the street. Then paint a white line to designate a walking area and eliminate the cost of sidewalks and frustration for area residents.
It's perfectly fine for bike paths along the side of busy Carolina Beach Avenue North and South Lake Park Blvd. Why not on streets with considerably less traffic flow?


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