Hamilton seeks more money for added sidewalks near elementary school

Hamilton soon will apply for a second grant to build additional sidewalks leading to Linden Elementary School through the federal Safe Routes to School program.

If the Ohio Department of Transportation approves it, the money will be used to install 21 blocks of sidewalks, crosswalks, and curb ramps along both sides of Van Hook Avenue, between Hayes Avenue and Fairview Avenue.

That would be Phase II of a program for which the city already has received grant approval.

In Phase I, sidewalks will be installed along both sides of Van Hook Avenue, from Hoadley to Hayes avenues, between mid-2022 and mid-2023. If Hamilton receives the second grant, it’s possible to two projects may both be done at the same time to save money on the construction.

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The work will include filling gaps where there are no sidewalks or gutters. Crosswalks also will be installed, as well as curb ramps that comply with Americans with Disabilities Act standards, said Larry Bagford, planning and zoning specialist for the city. The Phase II work is estimated to cost $389,600.

That cost includes all the engineering work and drawings, plus gutters and drainage basins where they are needed.

“Those ADA-compliant ramps at each corner are pretty expensive, themselves,” Bagford said. “It’s quite a long stretch of street.”

“I think it’s fantastic,” said Frank Downie, leader of PROTOCOL (People Reaching Out To Others; Celebrate Our Lindenwald). “In general, I just think it looks better. I don’t like gutterless streets. When it rains, water flows better to the sewers.”

“And the sidewalks, I think it makes it that much easier for the kids. Some of them will still continue to walk down the middle of the street. It seems to be a thing, especially with the older ones,” he said with a laugh. “I don’t know if it’s cool or what.”

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“We picked it because because all the kids feed to that street,” Bagford said. “So it made sense to us. Plus, there was tons of right-of-way along Van Hook that wasn’t being used, that was basically just grass. So we didn’t have to acquire any land to put the sidewalks in, so it made it a much cheaper project.”

Such improvements are part of Hamilton’s new Active Transportation Plan, which focuses on improving the ease and safety of walking and bicycling through the city. That can happen by adding sidewalks and bicycling lanes.

The city received money around 2009-2010, when Hamilton’s public schools, and the city received money to make improvements around Highland Elementary, Wilson and Garfield middle schools, and Highland and Riverview elementary schools.

The city will soon be coordinating where public works crews will be making street improvements, to apply Safe Routes to School grants , when it is possible, and find possible grants the city can receive.

Typically, the city has to provide 20 percent of funding for such projects, but for the past two years, money collected at toll roads have been eliminating the need for that local money.

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