Featured photo: The sidewalk at the corner of Gerald Street and 12th Street in Winston-Salem. (photo by Gale Melcher)

The city of Winston-Salem has a deluge of unfunded sidewalk construction and repair projects: $500 million worth. The city’s official list of projects is “overwhelming,” according to the city’s Transportation Director Jeff Fansler, so city staff say it’s going to take some time to work through the list — decades even. One funding avenue for the city’s rehabilitation and creation of sidewalks is through bond funds.

“In terms of our unfunded needs — having $500 million worth of unmet need in sidewalks — there’s no reason to have that in a six-year capital plan, there would be no reason to have that in a 10-15 year capital plan,” the city’s Budget and Performance Management Director Scott Tesh said at the city’s committee of the whole meeting on March 19.

Instead, these projects will be “long-term needs for 30+ years down the road,” Tesh said.

“In terms of what we intend to work on in a shorter time frame… you’ll see us provide presentations paring that…down into what’s more manageable,” he added.

In a statement to TCB, Fansler noted the city sidewalk projects that are currently funded: Brewer Road Sidewalk, Long Branch Trail Phase II, Brushy Fork Greenway, Silas Creek Parkway, Barbara Jane Avenue, Salem Creek Greenway, the eastern section of Salem Parkway’s Multi-Use Path, Jonestown Road Sidewalk, Fairlawn Drive, University Parkway, Griffith Road, Robinhood Road, Salem Creek Connector, Piedmont Regional Greenway and Brookshire Boulevard.

Fansler added that while construction to complete Salem Parkway’s multi-use path is still scheduled to begin in May, it “could be delayed until June.”

A completed piece of Salem Parkway’s multi-use pathway (city photo)

Chipping away at the list

On April 1, council approved a nearly $3.5 million contract for improvements along Polo Road, including new sidewalk construction. 

A Wake Forest University student was hit on Jan. 26 while crossing at the intersection of Long Drive and University Parkway. After the incident, the city installed a pedestrian crosswalk at the intersection.

Many historically-Black neighborhoods in the city’s East Ward “haven’t gotten a lot of attention over the years,” leaving residents with limited access to safe walking spaces, the ward’s Councilmember Annette Scippio said in October. That month, Scippio rallied volunteers to conduct a walk audit around the East Ward’s Reynoldstown and Slater Park and assess the neighborhoods’ sidewalks, many of which have cracks, missing panels and vegetation overgrowth that make it difficult to navigate — particularly for older residents. 

After the walk, Carol Hoover, the vice chair of the city’s Bicycle/Pedestrian/Active Mobility advisory committee, said that the city could fix some issues volunteers found on their walks fairly easily “within the next couple of months,” by removing vegetation and adding crosswalks.

“What can’t be done so quickly is that missing sidewalk panel or a missing sidewalk. Those are very expensive and take a lot longer,” Hoover said.

Did you know that you can submit a request for sidewalk construction through the CityLink 311 portal? According to the city’s website, requests are reviewed and ranked. Sidewalks are constructed according to priority and funding availability.

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