Funding for Charlotte sidewalks triples after WBTV Investigation

The WBTV report in February first exposed flaws in the sidewalk ranking program as well as the amount of time some projects sat on the waitlist.
Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 6:00 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 26, 2021 at 8:33 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A WBTV Investigation into how long it takes to build a sidewalk in Charlotte has gotten some big results that could impact how safely you walk around your neighborhood.

Following the WBTV Investigation, Charlotte city council approved new bond funding that would triple the amount of available money for sidewalk projects.

The WBTV report in February first exposed flaws in the sidewalk ranking program as well as the amount of time some projects sat on the waitlist.

Residents near Kuykendall Road in South Charlotte first brought this to WBTV’s attention after advocating to expedite construction on their heavily trafficked street.

“Just thought it would happen and here it is almost 20 years later,” Sara Jo Burns told WBTV.

WBTV’s investigation found that out of 242 unfunded sidewalk projects, all of them had been on the waitlist for at last 15 years.

After the story aired, City Council passed additional funding for city sidewalk projects. More than tripling it from $15 million to $50 million.

Charlotte Department of Transportation Planning and Design Deputy Division Manager Ashley Landis said the change in funding was “tremendous.”

“We’re going to be able to accelerate our projects, deliver more projects, and really spread out the projects across the city,” Landis said.

The WBTV investigation also found the city was not regularly re-evaluating projects to see if they should move up the list.

On Kuykendall Road, it took three years after the construction of a new development to eventually be factored in. Other rankings such as the pedestrian safety of the area also changed after residents started contacting CDOT to take a fresh look at the road.

Landis said the new funding will allow for faster re-evaluation going forward.

“We’re going to continue to refine our segment list to target our highest priority needs and because of that and the city developing, we will have to have some level of flexibility and continue to evaluate the feasibility of different segments of city,” Landis said.

According to the FY 2022 budget, 20 percent of the funding will be reserved for sidewalk construction in suburban areas, but Landis said what that will look like still needs to be worked out.

“I think part of it is figuring out how do we use this new funding, and that 20 percent that’s allocated for suburban areas, to think about how charlotte’s developing? How do we use that type of change to facilitate using the money in a way that moves the most amount of people in the safest way?” Landis said.

The $50 million in funding would come from the next bond cycle. Voters would need to approve this new sidewalk money when it’s on the ballot in 2022.

Landis says in the meantime it will give CDOT plenty of time to plan the next projects that could be in our neighborhood.

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