The Opelika City Council unanimously approved a bicycle path and sidewalk plan at its Tuesday meeting that outlines possible additions to paths on existing roadways spanning over 130 miles throughout the city.
The plan, researched and developed by engineering firm Sain Associates, lays out over 50 potential projects the city could undertake to add more bike paths and sidewalks around town.
Jennifer Brown, a project manager with Sain Associates, told the council the plan includes long-range projects as well as short-term recommendations for additional paths across the city.
“The city ultimately desires to connect its citizens to the places they want to be, so keeping that in mind and also knowing the development of the city’s ADA plan, the goal is for Opelika to become the safest and most business and family-friendly city in America by the year 2023,” Brown said. “Increasing your pedestrian and cycling opportunities is really a step in that goal in itself.”
Brown said the city of Opelika maintained about 216 miles of roadway, with only 15 percent of them having sidewalks and less than 4 percent with bicycle accommodations.
“The plan also outlines goals and objectives that will help to achieve the vision of doubling those percentages of roadways with pedestrian and cycling accommodations in a 10-year timeframe,” Brown said.
The plan identified over 200 different roadway segments spanning over 130 miles stretched out over eight phases that were determined to be the most appropriate for new bicycling and pedestrian accommodations by soliciting feedback from the public through several surveys.
With a mixture of relatively quick and low-cost projects mixed with larger, more expensive undertakings, Brown described the master plan as a “living document” that could help guide city policy and the plan’s adoption as a sign of the city showing a commitment to providing more pathways to its residents.
“It’s certainly a thorough plan, and we had plenty of funding from the state to develop this,” City Engineer Scott Parker said. “It’s a complete plan that helps us go forward in the future with recommendations and guidance as we grow as a city.”