City of Seligman explores options for sidewalks

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Matching grant may provide resources to complete project along Main Street

The city of Seligman is exploring options, including a new federal grant, that would allow it to update and improve its sidewalks along Main Street.

According to Brian Nichols, Seligman city clerk, the current sidewalks are outdated or nonexistent, and the city would like to improve areas along Business Highway 37 to provide an area for residents to walk, as well as protect them and prevent pedestrian-vehicle-related accidents.

"If you spend much time downtown, you'll see so many people walking," Nichols said. "[They are] walking their dogs and so forth, so it would be a good thing to give residents more protection, as we don't want anyone getting hit."

Nichols said he and city council members began exploring options last year, initially with Anderson Engineering, about the possibility of putting in sidewalks along the Main Street area, a distance of about 1.83 miles.

"We get a lot of traffic [along that stretch]," Nichols said. "It's all of Business 37, so north of the Dollar General all the way to city hall."

A new, federal matching grant may be just the avenue to pave the way for the sidewalks.

"A grant came available and I was contacted about it," Nichols said. "The grant would be an 80/20 matching grant, costing a minimum of $100,000 to $500,000."

The city does not have any details confirmed yet, as it is in the early stages of exploring the project, and must first apply for the grant before any concrete plans can be laid.

"We're not sure of cost, but have to get MoDOT involved," Nichols said, adding that November is the deadline to apply for the grant. "First, we need to speak with MoDOT, then the railroad and see what they will and won't allow or help with, but I imagine MoDOT will be pretty helpful about figuring out how to address some trouble areas."

MoDOT is right now reconstructing sidewalks along Main Street in Cassville after being tasked by the U.S. Department of Justice with making all sidewalks in the state within their jurisdiction ADA compliant.

Beth Schaller, MoDOT Engineer for four counties in southwest Missouri, including Barry, said that before construction or funding could be addressed in Seligman, the agency would have to first determine if the area along Main Street is under their jurisdiction.

"It would have to be a project on roadways we're responsible for," Schaller said. "We would have to check and see if we still own that. I don't know if we retained that [area] when we built the new highway, but I'm assuming that's why Business Highway 37 was built.

"Currently, we do have a notice that we have grant funding available and applications are due in November for sidewalk construction. They are federal funds that we administer, for instance a similar situation where the DNR has an agreement with the EPA, but the expectation is that we administer the funds."

Schaller said statewide funds set aside each year for roadway improvements that are not related to the grant process, which are usually triggered by another project the agency is working on in the area. For instance, Cassville sidewalks were surveyed when the agency was working on a separate project resurfacing local roads.

"Cassville is an improvement project that MoDOT is making on a MoDOT-owned roadway," Schaller said.

When coming through an area with a project, the agency is required by an agreement with the Department of Justice to survey and remove all barriers to access.

"We have to look at the sidewalks, for instance, when we are doing another project, like overlaying the street," Schaller said.

Next year, for instance, the agency will be looking at completing a sidewalk improvement project in Wheaton along Highway W, where they will be working to improve roadways.

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