A sidewalk project along High Street got the thumbs-up from the Brookeville Town Commission, clearing the way for the State Highway Administration to get started on it.
In July, the highway administration presented to the town a proposal for sidewalk construction in Brookeville between Salem United Methodist Church and Longwood Community Recreation Center.
The Brookeville Planning Commission unanimously backed the plan and now the town commission has too.
Commission President Michael Acierno said after consideration of comments and discussions, the commissioners voted at their Sept. 9 meeting to ask the SHA to continue working on this sidewalk proposal.
“The Town’s Master Plan has called for sidewalks as a way to provide safe access toward Olney and enhance the walkability of our village,” Acierno wrote in a letter sent to residents. “The Commissioners believe that this is an opportunity that we should not let pass. We agree with the Master Plan and the Planning Commission that installation of sidewalks is in the best interests of Brookeville’s current and future generations, enhancing safety and promoting physical activity.”
Not all residents were supportive of the plan, stating concerns regarding water management, snow removal and the loss of property and trees.
Acierno said as the process moves forward, there would be additional opportunities for public input.
In a letter to the commissioners, resident Debbie Wagner expressed her support for the project.
“I have been advocating for a sidewalk along High Street for over two decades,” she wrote. “We’ve driven the half-mile to Longwood Community Center because there was no safe way for our children to walk there by themselves.”
SHA spokesman David Buck said over the next four to six weeks, the administration will prepare renderings to show residents. The proposed 5-foot wide sidewalks will run about one-third of a mile along the southbound side of Md. 97, and will include curbs and gutters.
“There is funding for the concept, but we still need design funding,” he said. “I am confident that this will move forward.”
Once funding is secured, the design phase will take about 8 to 12 months, which Buck said is typical for new sidewalks.
“Construction could start as early as 2015, pending funding,” he said.
Because it is only in the concept phase, there is no cost estimate yet for the project.
Md. 97 Relocated (the Brookeville Bypass), which has been on the planning books for nearly 40 years, is expected to remove the increasing volume of traffic going through the historic town. Funding for the project was announced in May, and Buck said that they are currently looking at construction to begin in mid-to late 2016.
Buck said that the relocation project should not have any major impact on the sidewalk project.
“We just need to make sure designers on both projects are on the same page,” he said.