City Council members will soon consider a list of proposed new sidewalks in Fayetteville.
The council’s Transportation Committee earlier this month recommended approval of a sidewalk construction plan that includes projects in various neighborhoods across town.
The work is split between new construction and replacement or rehabilitation of existing sidewalks. Most projects are scheduled to be completed by the city’s construction crew, but a couple are set for outside contractors.
City officials use a scoring system to prioritize projects, most of which are brought to the city’s attention by residents who notice places where repairs are needed or where connections would be helpful, said Keith Shreve, the city’s assistant transportation manager.
Shreve said smaller cracks or areas of settling can be leveled with a grinding tool, but larger areas of uneven surface that can cause a tripping hazard must be replaced and are scored higher on the list. Other factors used to rank projects include a sidewalk’s proximity to schools or commercial zones and a neighborhood’s population.
Crews work each year on an ongoing list that’s approved by the City Council, and any project that isn’t completed is moved to the following year.
This year’s proposed list begins with some carryover projects from 2022, including the second half of a sidewalk connection on Hollywood Avenue from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to Parnell Drive, and some repairs on both Dickson Street and Mountain Street near the Fayetteville Public Library. Other projects include a 650-foot sidewalk connection on Old Missouri Road from Frazier Terrace to Stearns Street, and a 500-foot connection on Salem Road from Clearwood Drive to Mount Comfort Road. Those projects have a total budget of $379,008, which includes $125,000 for ramps and general maintenance around town as needed.
It’s uncertain whether this year’s full project list can be completed, considering the city is currently understaffed by a third of its concrete construction crew positions. Only six out of nine positions are staffed at the moment.
Shreve said he hopes to be able to soon hire some people, but the city has had openings for several months.
“If we can’t increase our staffing, I won’t be able to get it all done,” said Shreve.
Shortages are something the Public Works department is facing in several areas, said assistant director Terry Gulley. The trend includes a 40-50% shortage in the city’s asphalt crew, he said.
“We’ve had so few applicants, and really nobody is willing to take the pay we’ve offered,” said Gulley.
One way to accomplish more work is to spend more money on outside contractors.
Public Works Director Chris Brown said contracted work is extremely high right now, but the city doesn’t have much choice.
“We’re really stuck between a rock and a hard place,” Brown said. “We don’t have the capacity to do a whole lot more, but we don’t really have enough funds to do a lot of contracted work either.”
Brown said the current plan is to spend about $440,907 to hire a contractor to build a 1,600-foot sidewalk on the west side of Leverett Avenue from Sycamore Street to Hazel Street in 2023. Another contractor project with a budget of $387,164 includes building a 950-foot sidewalk on the west side of Happy Hollow Road from Acacia Crossing to Fourth Street later this year.
Brown said it’s possible the city could use some of the money from the transportation bonds that voters approved in 2019.
“But those bond funds are currently allocated to other projects,” he said.
The list of projects the city hopes to complete this year is included below. To see the master list of upcoming projects in the next few years, click here.
2023 Proposed Sidewalk Repair/Construction Projects
|MLK Jr. Blvd.
|Happy Hollow Road*
|Old Missouri Road
|Mount Comfort Road
* Outside contractor work