Push To Improve Charlotte’s Sidewalk Infrastructure

CHARLOTTE, NC – There is a renewed push to improve Charlotte’s sidewalk infrastructure. School is back in session and more and more people are walking along the streets.

“We cannot be a big city if we’re not willing to make it safe for a lot of people to get where they’re going by walking,” said Marion McMahon.

She is a community activist. She says the city needs a comprehensive plan to fill in the unsafe and disconnected city sidewalks.

“A sidewalk is a pedestrian’s road. It protects them,” said McMahon.

On Tuesday,  the wife and two children of Charlotte city councilman, Tariq Bohkari were hit by a vehicle while standing at a bus stop in south Charlotte.

Bohkari posted online that his wife has a concussion and is in terrible pain. The children had some scraps and bruises.

Bohkari said he was angry about the lack of sidewalks and called on drivers to slow down.

“We all use sidewalks and if there is not one, you haven’t got another option. It is the dirt,” explained Tobe Holmes.

Holmes is the Director of Planning and Development at University City Partners. He says sidewalk projects tend to only get a small piece of transportation funding pie.

“Money tends to be the biggest hold up,” said Holmes.

The city budget, which passed in June calls for a proposed 2022 bond  for $50 million dollars in sidewalk funding.. That’s more than triple the amount for 2020, which was $15 million.

Bohkari was the only council member to vote against the city budget. He cited his objection to council and mayor pay raises.

Holmes says the increased funding is a good step, but still far off from addressing the issue.

“We have so much further to go and I’m not sure that we can bite off enough funding in any given year to make a massive dent in our sidewalk needs,” said Holmes.

Holmes says while CDOT is going a great job building out the sidewalk infrastructure in densely populated areas, challenges remain.

“Other parts of the City have immediate needs and we can’t build sidewalks fast enough to keep up with the growing population,” said Holmes.

He says in the University City area, they must rely on real estate development as well to help build sidewalks.

“We are working with the City as well as developers to improve those conditions. An example of where the city is making an investment can be found on McCullough Drive, extending from WT Harris across Tryon Street,” said Holmes.