Upper Arlington News

Online survey will help with sidewalk guidelines

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Upper Arlington officials are seeking the public's help in deciding how and where sidewalks should be installed throughout the city.

For the second time this fall, the city is soliciting potential policy-making input via survey.

In September, postcards were mailed to 1,500 randomly selected Upper Arlington households to capture residents' perceptions of the local quality of life and city services.

Last week, the city announced it also has launched an online survey to gauge public opinion on how to expand sidewalks.

The 20-question survey can be accessed online at surveymonkey.com/s/uaconnectivity. The deadline for completion is Nov. 8.

Sidewalks have been a somewhat sticky topic for Upper Arlington administrators and lawmakers in recent years.

The city's master plan, defined as the guiding document for the community and its leaders, identifies Henderson Road near Riverside Drive, Riverside Drive between Trabue Road and Lane Avenue, and Riverside between Fishinger Road and Henderson as operating at "unacceptable levels" during peak hours.

The master plan says city officials should develop strategies to reduce traffic congestion by emphasizing pedestrian and bicycle access.

Some residents have expressed the desire for more sidewalks to improve child and pedestrian safety and to connect neighborhoods to nearby schools, parks and businesses.

Currently in Upper Arlington, new builds are required to install sidewalks and the city's Engineering Division is required to identify options for installing sidewalks on arterial or collector streets when reconstruction is slated. Council then can decide if it wants the city engineer to proceed with sidewalk designs as part of the project, and then to bid construction of sidewalks as an alternate.

The city also has a petition process in place to initiate sidewalk projects in neighborhoods, but it requires support from the owners of 60 percent of the property frontage in that area.

City officials hope to explore other options to determine if the petition process is too onerous for residents and other stakeholders, and to reduce conflicts between neighbors who fall on opposing sides of a petition.

Community Affairs Director Emma Speight said the survey will supplement a project being conducted by Ohio State University graduate students in city and regional planning to develop policy recommendations related to identifying sidewalk projects, guiding their completion and funding them.

"We put this survey online to assist the OSU student group that has taken on development of a UA Connectivity Plan for Upper Arlington," Speight said. "They had residents who attended a public meeting complete the survey, and we offered to put together an online version to hopefully give them additional feedback from the community to help them in their project."

Speight said the results will be shared as part of the students' report to council, but no timeline has been established for subsequent action.

The city's cost for the survey, Speight said, was about $340.

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