Resident objects to ‘sidewalk to nowhere’

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SPRING HILL – John Perry said he doesn’t understand what county commissioners were thinking when they approved a $280,000 contract to install sidewalks on Waterfall Drive.

Perry, who lives off Garrison Street, which abuts Waterfall, said he seldom sees anyone walking or riding a bike on Waterfall and called the expenditure a waste of taxpayer money.

“It’s ridiculous,” Perry said.

Commissioners voted unanimously in September to award the contract to Florida Safety Contractors, one of four bidders, to build a 5-foot-wide sidewalk on the west side of Waterfall Drive, from County Line Road to Spring Hill Drive.

The Florida Department of Transportation will pay for the sidewalks.

County transportation officials said Waterfall is a major roadway and sidewalks were needed for safety reasons.

But Perry doesn’t think so and he cites data showing the “walk score” from his house is 12 out of 100. A walk score measures how walkable an address is based on the distance to nearby stores and other amenities. The data comes from the online real estate data base called Zillow.

“It means it’s not walkable to anywhere,” Perry said.

Florida Safety Contractors will reshape the shoulders on the side of the road, install sod, drainage pipes, reconstruct any driveways and put in pedestrian walkway signs.

Steve Diez, county transportation planner, said the main reason for installing a sidewalk is safety. There are many people who live there who would walk but don’t want to take their chances on busy Waterfall, which has a speed limit of 35 mph.

Proximity to stores is not the sole determining factor for building sidewalks, Diez said. Many people use trails and walkways for exercise and relaxation, he said.

Diez also said it would allow people to better access the new walkway on County Line Road, which extends west to U.S. 19.

Diez said the final design plans for the sidewalk were approved in May and the notice to proceed with construction was issued last week

Annually, around 4,500 pedestrians are killed in traffic crashes with motor vehicles in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration.