Completing the Sidewalk Network
A fully completed sidewalk network - sidewalks on both sides of arterial and collector streets in the urban areas, to be consistent with local street standards - will require approximately 233 miles of new sidewalks. This does not include replacing sidewalks in poor condition or that are narrower than current standards. Using a very rough estimate of $1 million per mile the cost estimate would be $233 million.
The Thurston Region receives Surface Transportation Block Grant and Surface Transportation Set Aside funding (Transportation Alternatives program) through the Federal Highway Administration, which are good sources of funding for sidewalk construction. Assuming we target a quarter of those funds for sidewalk projects – that would be around $1 million per year – a higher level than we’ve funded in the past.
With a $233 million need and a $1 million annual allocation, utilizing these funds alone, it would take over 200 years to complete the existing sidewalk network in the urbanized areas. This doesn’t include providing sidewalks on neighborhood streets for uses such as safe walking routes to schools. That is why other sources of funding, such as local funds, other grant programs, and developer funded frontage improvements, as well as prioritizing where to retrofit sidewalks – is essential.
What the Future Holds
Most of our communities, large and small, rural and urban, have multimodal and active community goals. As roadways improvements are made, it is anticipated that more sidewalks will be built and improved further development the current extensive network.