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Sidewalk projects move ahead on parallel tracks

Of the Keizertimes

Members of the Keizer Traffic Safety, Bikeways and Pedestrian Committee are shifting into overdrive as they hone in on two potential projects to submit for state funding.

The group met Thursday, June 14, and continued discussions regarding what improvement projects in Keizer would be the best contenders for funds being made available through a transportation package approved by the Oregon Legislature in 2017.

At the recommendation of Mike Jaffe, transportation program director for the Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments, the committee settled on one project with a smaller price tag and one that will require a more substantial investment.

Sidewalk improvements to Delight Street Northeast around Cummings Elementary School was deemed to be the most pressing concern with sidewalk access enhancements to the area around Kennedy Elementary School taking the No. 2 spot with a higher price tag.

“We need to hammer out specific streets and whether we want sidewalks on one side or both,” said David Dempster, a committee member.

Subgroups of the committee planned walkthroughs of each area last week to discuss specifics.

The decision appeared to put to rest a months-long conversation regarding which of the two projects would get the full support of the committee. However, it was made easier this time around with input from Jaffe, who had the latest draft rules for the competitive funding process on-hand. The rule-making committee is favoring projects within a mile of Title 1, K-8 schools. Cummings and Kennedy are both designated as Title 1, which denotes schools with high percentages of children from low-income families.

Jaffe also encouraged members of the committee and someone from city staff to attend a transportation workshop in Salem as part of their preparation for submitting projects.

One question still outstanding where money to match the state grants will come from. Depending on the final rules, Keizer might be able to cite an upcoming investment from the Salem-Keizer School District into the Cummings area as matching money.

The recently-approved school bond measure includes a sidewalk build-out to the edges of  the Cummings’ campus and may qualify as a matching investment without the city dipping into its own reserves.

After determining the specifics for each project, the committee will need approval from the city council to move forward.