It’s just a short stretch of sidewalk, but at least one Naperville resident says it could pose a serious danger to those who use it. City officials agree his request merits the fast track.
Josh Weir, who lives on the city’s north side, this week asked the City Council to consider moving a section of the walkway on the east side of Washington Street just north of Bauer Road where the concrete curves to abut the curb. Stretching about 200 feet, the conjoined expanse of walkway is just west of Jefferson Junior High School.
“With the school there, you have a lot of children that are using that sidewalk every day, going to and from school,” Weir said.
Many dog owners, walkers and joggers also travel the piece of sidewalk, he added. Not everyone is fully attentive to the passing traffic.
“I watch kids goof off, do silly things as they’re walking to school,” Weir said.
Shifting the section of sidewalk in a way that would realign it with the portions north and south would enhance safety, he said. It also would make it easier, he added, for snowplows to clear Washington without making the sidewalk impassable, and during the rainy season reduce the splashing of pedestrians by passing cars.
Councilman Bob Fieseler noted that a similar situation farther south on Washington, beneath the railroad overpass near Fourth Avenue, was addressed with the placement of a fence separating the sidewalk from the road. Council member Joe McElroy noted that the barrier has shown its value.
“That fence has already gotten dented, in a couple of places,” said McElroy, who favored moving ahead with Weir’s request even though it isn’t included in the city’s periodic sidewalk improvement program. “I really think this should be a priority, more than any neighborhood sidewalk.”
Bill Novack, head of the city’s Transportation, Engineering and Development department, said moving the sidewalk north of Bauer would cost about $15,000, considerably less than building a fence.
“It would be much better if we can move it back,” he said.
After a straw poll found unanimous council support for Weir’s proposal, Novack said he would contact District 203 to secure the necessary easements and proceed with having the work scheduled.