Submitted by City of Yelm
With many sidewalks around the City of Yelm in need of repair and replacement, Yelm City Council allocated funding in the 2019-2020 biennial budget to repair sidewalks, improve walkability, and increase pedestrian safety throughout our community.
As a first order of business, the Public Works Department conducted a sidewalk study to locate sections that could be repaired and began planning for other areas that will be completely replaced this year, including sections along Yelm Avenue.
Through the study and the work that followed, more than 400 trip hazards were eliminated by grinding them down to a level surface, while 30 sections were identified to be replaced. Most of the larger sidewalk replacement projects will take place along Yelm Avenue which are the oldest sidewalks in the City. The next course of action will be to replace the sections of sidewalk that are not salvageable, eliminating all remaining trip hazards.
In addition to repairing existing sidewalks, the City also constructed 900 feet of sidewalk to provide a much safer walk to school following the construction of 5-foot sidewalks and newly painted crosswalks to better connect dozens of homes to Fort Stevens Elementary.
Another priority of the 2019-2020 budget is to construct sidewalks on Mill Road, extend sidewalks through Second Street and onto Mosman Avenue, and to design and construct a multi-use path through Cochrane Park. These sidewalk improvement projects were prioritized to improve student safety and better connect residents to City parks, local businesses and community services.
Connecting neighborhoods to nearby services takes cars off the road, which improves personal and environmental heath while boosting support for local businesses. Cities with high walkability scores have been proven to be appealing to residents and tourists when shops and restaurants are walkable, appealing, and easily accessible.
Looking beyond the two year budget, the City partnered with SCJ Alliance to create the Downtown Corridor Transportation Strategy which includes a wide scope of pedestrian improvement projects. The project list includes cost estimates, time frames, and a community benefit score so each could be prioritized and implemented as resources become available. This forward looking plan was adopted by an overwhelming number of City Councilmembers.
Specifically, this Transportation Strategy identified 14 individual projects that will improve flow, connectivity, economic vitality, and safety for all travelers while balancing the character of the historic corridor. All projects identified will improve pedestrian safety and create a better sense of place. The plan includes adding additional sidewalks to the city and the replacement of sidewalks that are currently in disrepair on Yelm Avenue with 10-foot sidewalk.
As Yelm continues to grow and more businesses are established, we will continue looking forward to enhance pedestrian safety and bolster downtown vitality by connecting our residents to schools, businesses and other community services in the safest and most efficient ways possible.