City of Lake Charles pushing for more sidewalks

You'll likely start seeing more sidewalks popping up in future developments within the City of Lake Charles. City planners have come up with a "Sidewalk Waiver Worksheet" - intended to structure the way the Planning and Zoning Commission issues sidewalk waivers for new subdivisions.

Despite an ordinance requiring new subdivisions to have sidewalks, over the years many developers have been granted a waiver because of expense. Lake Charles City Planning Director Russ Adams said they really saw the problem when they began working on their pedestrian/bicycle master plan.

"We've been working on that pedestrian/bicycle master plan for quiet some time. We took a graphic inventory of where all the sidewalks were in the city and when you compare the northeastern part with the southwestern part their is a big difference. The southeastern part had fewer sidewalks," explained Adams.

Adams believes the Sidewalk Waiver Worksheet will help make the city more connected and consistent.

"During these meetings we've been having, the public asked us as a staff to go back to the planning commission and say look times are a little different now. We should be putting in sidewalks for walkable communities. We should be following the ordinance for safety reasons, for health reasons. We want to have communities connected to schools and there is federal programs that have safe routes to school that pay for building sidewalks to make this connectivity to schools and playgrounds and that sort of thing," said Adams.

The Lake Charles City Council will vote on a resolution of support on September 7th. It will then go to the Planning and Zoning Commission for a final decision on September 12th.

The following is a draft of the questions asked one the Sidewalk Waiver Worksheet:

1. Are there any parks, schools, or other pedestrian generators within walking distance (1/4 or 1/2 mile) near the development?

2. Are there any existing or likely future sidewalks or walkways that would connect with a pedestrian walkway along the development?

3. Would the density of existing or future development in the area generate use for the sidewalk or walkway? How many dwelling units are planned at build out?

4. Is the adjacent street potentially planned for reconstruction?

5. Will the proposed development generate any pedestrian traffic?

6. What is the average lot frontage length?

7. What is the estimated cost of constructing the sidewalk? What is the average cost per house?

8. Is it physically feasible to construct sidewalks or are there any obstacles on the terrain?

9. Are there any previous phases constructed in the development without sidewalks? If a survey was taken, what is the consensus from residents in the other phases?

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