Sidewalks in DWNTWN Muncie IN get attention

By Rick Yencer

MUNCIE, INDIANA (NEWS) -  Millions of dollars could be spent over the next few years to make Muncie a more pedestrian friendly community.

Sidewalks and their compliance with the law was the topic Thursday at Muncie's Redevelopment Commission gathering that is usually spent on economic development and creating jobs in the community.

 Following the death of a teenage pedestrian near a busy commercial corner of northwest Muncie, Mayor Dennis Tyler again reaffirmed his commitment to build more sidewalks whether along northwest commercial routes or in south Muncie neighborhoods near elementary schools.

 At a cost of about $25,000 a block for concrete, the work will take the resources of local and state government besides others that provide transportation, and sanitation.

The primary project DWNTWN started a coupled years ago after the city was ordered make sidewalks comply with law and be accessible for those with disability. That means the lip of a sidewalk can only b e about a quarter inch high, according to consultant Phil Tevis, who has been paid thousands of dollars to evaluate and make recommendations for infrastructure work to local government.

 Tevis offered the MRC an interactive map showing the DWNTWN sidewalk grid and how compliant it was with the law. Only four and a half miles of sidewalk met the law and another 11 and half miles did not.

 Much of the work currently seen in DWNTWN is actually being done by the Muncie bus system that is ensuring its riders and those with disability have access to the DWNTWN bus stop. The city has been doing other work and Tyler indicated much more would be done when a new hotel was built next to the Horizon Convention Center.

 The state also is doing work along portions of Jackson and Main streets that carry Ind. 32 through DWNTWN. And the Muncie Sanitary District plans to rebuild sidewalks DWNTWN and near the University Village when it builds new storm sewers.

 The mayor also pointed out any neighborhoods had no sidewalks especially some with neighborhood elementary schools. There are no sidewalks near Sutton Elementary except on Memorial Drive, and the same goes for Northview Elementary.

 The city has been looking at building sidewalks in northwest Muncie where thousands of students and others live in apartments off Bethel Avenue and Morrison Road.

Pedestrians are routinely walking along Bethel, crossing McGalliard near Wal Mart, and even walking down Morrison where no sidewalks were built after roads were widen in recent years.

 Bloomington has sidewalks in every part of the town and has been one of the most pedestrian friendly cities in the Midwest. Muncie has spent extra transportation money on trails along White River and an old rail line given to the community for trail use.