By Will Fairless
Last Thursday, the City of Opelika held a public forum to get feedback from the community on its proposed bicycle and pedestrian masterplan.
The plan is for walkways, sidewalks, bike paths, bike lanes and other “facilities,” as the city refers to them, for roadway users not driving motor vehicles. The plan is extensive, setting its goal for 2030 as adding 33 miles of sidewalks and 7.5 miles of bicycle facilities.
In the packet distributed to attendees of the forum, the City wrote the following: “The City desires a connected community that provides access for all roadway users and facilitates connection between people and the places they want to be.”
Every roadway in Opelika was graded for construction feasibility (rated “Easy,” “Medium” or “Hard”) as a criterion for prioritization. A roadway’s rating was decided based on its width, shoulder type, utilities, potential grading challenges and potential property impacts.
The other criteria the city will consider in prioritizing the projects are:
whether the subject roadway expands the existing network
posted speed limit
daily traffic volume
stakeholder and public input
The city is requesting input from the public so that the plans can be prioritized and broken up into smaller, achievable phases. The full plan cannot be carried out all at once; these phases, or short-term projects, should eventually compose the master plan.
At the public meeting, some of the concerns raised by citizens were that high-pedestrian-traffic areas currently without sidewalks be prioritized, that any new facility not adjacent to an existing roadway be accessible to emergency vehicles and that there be some measure in place for the increased littering that might be a consequence of new walkways.
The presentation can be found at www.opelika-al.gov/DocumentCenter/View/2707/Bike-and-Pedestrian-Plan-Public-Meeting-Presentation. After reviewing the presentation, citizens can submit their feedback on the plan by completing an online survey or filling out the feedback form found on the city’s website and sending it to the city via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The online survey can be completed at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PublicFeedbackForm.