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Pell City approves grant application aimed at improving sidewalks (with photos)

PELL CITY -- The Pell City Council has approved a grant application that will look to bring the sidewalks downtown into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

During its regular meeting Monday, the council approved a grant application to the Transportation Alternative Plan program, which is administered by the Alabama Department of Transportation. 

The program seeks to help cities develop non-automobile based transportation options.

If awarded the grant, the city could receive a maximum of $640,000. The municipality would be required to match 20 percent of what is awarded, with the maximum match being $160,000.

On a map provided by City Manager Brian Muenger, many of the sidewalks in the municipality’s historic downtown are shown to fail to meet full standards set by ADA. 

Street Department Director Greg Gossett told the council the project will include Comer, Cogswell and 1st avenues.

“This will help you on the ADA deficiencies you have in town,” Gossett said “It's not going to correct them all by no means.”

Gossett added he has further improvements in his department’s upcoming budget that will be on a smaller scale.

He said the project would also address lighting on Cogswell Avenue and generally try to “lighten up” the downtown area visually.

Muenger said the program is not merely aimed at sidewalks that are not accessible. While some are not ADA accessible, others have other compliance issues that need addressing. 

“You are addressing a lot of different things here,” Muenger said. “Otherwise the option is to address them incrementally through budget”

Muenger also pointed out that the level of award offered by TAP has significantly increased since previous years, making the program much more worthwhile for the city. 

He said that previously the maximum award was $350,000.

Council member Jay Jenkins expressed his support for the application during the council’s work session.

“It's a no brainer,” Jenkins said, adding the sidewalk revisions are something the municipality would have to do anyway, so the city may as well get help in doing it.

Muenger said he feels the city has a strong application for the TAP grant due to the current level of sidewalk use in the downtown area.

“This is not an area where we are hoping to bring foot traffic; we have foot traffic in downtown ” Muenger said. “We are improving existing high-use pedestrian facilities”

He also said these improvements factor into the city’s ideas for downtown revitalization that became a focus with plans offered late last year by Auburn grad students.

“I think pedestrian improvements are always a major factor in downtown revitalization,” Muenger said. “The two ideas are very congruent with one another.”

In the end, Muenger said the real beneficiaries of these improvements will be business owners downtown.

 

Taylor Mitchell, Daily Home reporter covering Pell City.

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