City officials are taking another step to make it easier to walk or ride a bicycle safely in high-traffic areas in Seymour.
On Thursday, the board of public works and safety gave initial approval to a project to make improvements along 3,300 feet of East Fourth Street by adding a sidewalk, curb ramps and bicycle lanes from O’Brien Street to Burkart Boulevard.
It’s a part of Mayor Craig Luedeman’s push and overall plan to add infrastructure for pedestrian traffic in an effort to encourage more residents to get active and provide people with a safe alternative to travel to work or school.
First Group Engineering Inc. of Indianapolis will design the project. Construction is expected to begin in July. It is estimated to cost around $200,000 and will take three months to complete.
By adding six-foot painted bicycle lanes on both the north and south sides of the street, the driving lanes will be narrowed to 12 feet, said Shawn Strange with First Group Engineering.
But that is a standard road width for the area and is in compliance with the Indiana Department of Transportation, he added.
The new bicycle lanes and sidewalk, which will be on the south side of the road, will tie into improvements made to Burkart Boulevard last summer that resulted in a 10-foot-wide multipurpose trail along that route from Fourth Street to North O’Brien Street.
The infrastructure also will connect to sidewalks that recently were installed by Cummins along its property.
Luedeman wants to complete the pedestrian loop by extending the bike lanes and sidewalks on O’Brien Street from Burkart Boulevard to Fourth Street.
The Seymour City Council adopted an official bicycle and pedestrian plan in May 2015 proposing the addition of 73 miles of dedicated bicycle and pedestrian routes in and around the city, including 39 miles of on-street bike lanes, 22 miles of off-street multiuse trails and 12 miles of new sidewalks.
The total cost of the project, including engineering, design and construction expenses, was estimated at $3.4 million, with the majority to be paid for through grants and fundraising.
Board of works member and city Councilman Jim Rebber said he was in favor of adding more trails and bike paths in the city but didn’t want to see the Fourth Street project end up looking like Burkart Boulevard.
Rebber said he has heard many complaints from people about the changes made to Burkart Boulevard, specifically about the narrower driving lanes and the three-foot-wide concrete barrier that protects the pedestrian trail from vehicle traffic.
Strange said supplemental signage might be needed in the area.
Luedeman said the design for Fourth Street does not include a protective concrete curb.
“This will be a sidewalk off of the roadway, and then the bike lanes will just be painted,” he said.
By visually narrowing the road, Luedeman said it will help slow drivers down, which is needed in that area due to the amount of pedestrian traffic coming from Cummins, Seymour Middle School, Casey’s General Store and nearby apartments.