After years of consternation, the Juneau pathway project in Elm Grove was moved forward earlier this spring. On Tuesday, Elm Grove trustees doubled-down on their support of connectivity in the village with a recommendation to the Public Works Committee to examine additional pathway options.
Five options, all coming from suggestions from the committee, were studied by the village manager's office to determine the construction cost and ranked by potential feasibility. Those findings were presented at a special Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday.
Estimates did not include potential maintenance costs.
Public Works Director Michael Flaherty told the trustees that his staff could absorb duties like snow removal from a pathway along Juneau, but additional pathways may require additional staffing for upkeep.
A pathway on Gebhardt Road from Pilgrim Parkway to Highland Drive was deemed the most feasible and more logical of the proposed additional projects. There have been concerns voiced by those east of Highland that their needs for walking and biking safety aren't being met with the Juneau path.
"It isn't just Juneau," Village President Neil Palmer said.
"There are people in other parts of the village who are interested in connectivity."
This pathway, at an estimated cost of $59,300, would offer a pedestrian path east of Highland.
In a strange twist, a pathway connecting the Gebhardt and Juneau paths was considered the least feasible and also happens to be the most expensive.
Plenty of options
Putting a pedestrian path on Highland, the logical connector of the two arterials, would cost upward of $266,400 and the road itself has issues with height and grade, making construction a potential problem.
Watertown Plank Road, Berkshire Drive and the CP Railway are the three other proposed pathways. Part of the Watertown project would take the current on-road path off the road and would run east of Highland. That project comes in at just less than $40,000, while a Berkshire Drive pathway to Terrace Drive would be just less than $25,000.
Any pathway along the railway will come with serious obstacles. Village Manager Dave DeAngelis has had conversations with railroad administrators who say a pathway would be unsafe.
Palmer said such a plan could have obvious benefits and that the safety concerns can be worked out.
Going down a new path
A public safety survey incited the board to action this spring, and just a month ago, the Public Safety Committee accepted a proposed plan for a pathway along Juneau Boulevard.
A 1992 engineering plan is being updated, taking into account current landscaping and terrain. Costs are also being updated. The proposed pathway and village right of way have been staked by the village so those living and traveling on Juneau can see the demarcation of the proposed pathway.
Trustee John Meser admitted that these plans are preliminary and he said he wants to make sure the process they put in place now is something the village can look at as a model for future pathways.
"We have a history of going 20, 30 years between building paths," he said, adding that it may be wise to see how the Juneau pathway is used before moving these other plans much further forward.
The Public Works and Public Safety committees will both consider any plans for new pathways. Given that Public Works will take up the matter first, it will be up to that committee to determine which pathways should be investigated further and whether additional alternatives should be explored.
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