The Sonia King Trust is donating $100,000 to the town of Jonesborough to help fund the construction of sidewalks along East Main Street — something residents in the area have long asked for.
“It was great news and exciting to hear that because it accelerates this project that we need to get done,” said Jonesborough Mayor Chuck Vest, who was met with cheers from those in attendance after he announced the town had received the funding during Monday’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting.
During last month’s board meeting, several residents voiced concerns about pedestrian safety in the area and renewed calls for the installation of sidewalks. That section of East Main Street was also recently repaved, which forced the temporary removal of the speed tables typically present leading into downtown, something residents said led to cars going faster. While those speed tables are set to be re-installed in the next month, the town has increased police presence in the area to help reduce speeds in the meantime.
Town Administrator Glenn Rosenoff said the town had been exploring the idea of adding sidewalks in the area for a few months now and has been conducting traffic studies but would not have been able to allocate funding for it until the next budget cycle. Rosenoff said the estimated cost to add sidewalks from Headtown Road to downtown, which would connect the Senior Center and McKinney Center to downtown, is about $104,000.
“We can get this thing done probably sooner rather than later,” Rosenoff said, adding “We’ve got the people, we’ve got a funding source, this is a great marriage to get this project underway.”
While the funding is undoubtedly helpful to the town and brings the project closer to reality, there remains logistical hurdles to completing such a project.
“Some of the homes sit really close to the road, and if we try to widen them and put in sidewalks or do any type of configuration for an intersection, it runs into some right-of-way issues and property, so that’s probably one of the biggest hurdles,” Vest said after last month’s meeting. Vest said Monday that they’re hoping to get cooperation from residents in the area, which would allow them to navigate some of those logistical concerns.
“We need to get sidewalks out there, and we have a Senior Center now that’s thriving and we’ve got Lincoln Park going up there, so really there’s more urgency for it now than there was 10 years ago,” Vest said Monday.
There is no estimated timeline for construction on the project, but it’s likely to begin in 2022.
– Mayor Chuck Vest