By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
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ROCKFORD — The city is preparing to extend sidewalk north along Parkview Avenue as part of a project intended to make crossing Spring Creek Road safer for pedestrians and set the stage for future connections to the riverfront recreation path.
The plan calls for extending sidewalk from where it ends near the University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford to Spring Creek Road. There will also be two pedestrian crossing signals installed, one at Parkview Avenue and one at Highcrest Road.
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The project is part of the city’s long-term goal to fill gaps in sidewalk around town, and particular attention was drawn to this stretch because of the heavy foot traffic city staff saw during summer as people attended events at Anderson Japanese Gardens, 318 Spring Creek Road.
“Obviously, Anderson Gardens is a huge draw and at times they need remote parking,” said Jeremy Carter, the city’s traffic and development engineer.
“I’m not going to sit here and say the sidewalks were put in for them,” he said. However, “There were a lot of Tuesday nights that we saw people walking in the streets for the park concerts that Anderson Gardens happens to have in the summer.”
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The extension will also help the city eventually connect to the riverfront recreation path once it can fill gaps between Jacoby Place and Parkview.
When combined with its plans to install a multi-use path along Highcrest Road, it would create a constant connection for pedestrians and bicyclists between the east and west sides of the River, Carter said.
City Council members on Monday approved a funding agreement for the roughly $740,000 construction cost. The lion’s share of that cost will be paid for by a federal Transportation Alternative Program grant in the amount of $441,510.
The city is working to acquire the final piece of right-of-way for the new sidewalk and plans to start construction in spring or early summer.
Other sidewalk projects on the horizon
The city has similar plans to fill sidewalk gaps in other parts of town, and again it will rely on the grant funds to help pay for the projects.
Next year, it has plans to fill missing sidewalk links along both West State and East State streets.
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Sidewalk would be built from Rockford Ridge Apartments, formerly known as Concord Commons, to West State and then over to Pierpont Avenue. From there gaps would be filled in on the route up Pierpont toward McIntosh Elementary School, Kennedy Middle School and Auburn High School.
On East State, the city plans to fill gaps in sidewalk between Alpine and New Towne roads.
Design work is underway for both of those projects with plans for construction next year.
This article is by Kevin Haas. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @KevinMHaas or Instagram @thekevinhaas.