The Vienna Town Council on Nov. 14 advanced six more proposed sidewalk projects in three of the town’s quadrants.
The Council authorized Town Manager Mercury Payton to apply to the Maud Ferris Robinson Charitable Trust for $225,900 to finance final-design work for the projects.
The Vienna Department of Public Works will use its on-call contract with Urban Ltd. to have the firm conduct engineering work for proposed sidewalks on:
• The north side of Desale Street, S.W., from Moore Avenue to a point east of Melody Lane at a cost of $43,350. Construction on that side of the street will require less grading and result in reduced impact on larger, more mature trees, said acting Vienna Public Works Director Christine Horner. This sidewalk also will connect with future walkways on Elmar Drive and Melody Lane, she said.
• The east side of Melody Lane, S.W., from Desale Street to Lullaby Lane ($44,600), which again will have fewer mature-tree impacts and require less grading. Slopes on the west side of the street would have necessitated a retaining wall, Horner said.
• The north side of Delano Drive, S.E., from Echols Street to Alma Street ($37,350). This option is less expensive because it would affect five properties and three driveways, versus 10 properties and 10 driveways for the street’s south side, she said.
• The east side of Orrin Street, S.E., from Delano Drive to Follin Lane ($45,350). Building the sidewalk there would need less grading and cause less mature-tree harm, Horner said.
• The west side of Tazewell Road, N.W., from Lawyers Road to Holmes Drive ($37,100). That side of the street is flatter than the east side and result in less grading and fewer tree impacts, Horner said.
Several Tazewell Road residents testified at previous meetings in opposition to a sidewalk there, although a Council source said many of the opponents live on the opposite side of the street from where the walkway would be built.
• The west side of Pleasant Street, N.W., from Maple Avenue, W., to a spot 200 feet north ($18,150).
The town will engage a professional arborist to examine individual trees and determine which mitigation measures would work best to protect them, Horner said. Some options could include rubber or permeable sidewalks, she said.
Former Town Council member Maud Robinson, who died in March 2019 at age 96, bequeathed the town $7 million for sidewalk construction and set a five-year spending deadline for the funds, which are administered by her charitable trust.
Council member Nisha Patel wondered why the Desale, Melody and Orrin projects were listed after the Council had rejected them two years ago, shortly after she joined the body.
“I believe we said no because nobody wanted the sidewalks in those neighborhoods,” she said. “I just can’t help feeling that we’re ramming down sidewalks on people’s streets that don’t want them. I just cannot in good conscience vote for that.”
Horner responded that public-works officials produced this list of sidewalk projects using the engineering-study approach the Council had recommended Nov. 1.
“We are not engineers,” Mayor Linda Colbert said. “We trust our staff.” The Council has expressed interest in building a network of sidewalks to connect streets, Colbert said.
Council member Charles Anderson also favored the projects.
“Wherever we have an opportunity to build a sidewalk on public right-of-way and we’ve got the money, we should do it to finish the grid as much as we can,” he said. “Only in extreme circumstances would I argue that we should not do it on particular streets, because the ideal and goal in my mind is to have sidewalks everywhere.”
Anderson moved for the contract’s approval and it passed 6-1, with Patel voting nay.
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