Eastern Shore wants more sidewalks in area


DAPHNE – Sidewalks linking U.S. 98 and Scenic 98 in Fairhope and Montrose are among the construction projects being considered by the Eastern Shore Metropolitan Planning Organization.

The MPO Policy Board voted Wednesday, Oct. 27, to add five projects to its Visionary List of needed infrastructure improvements on the Eastern Shore. The MPO oversees the allocation of some federal highway funding for Eastern Shore projects.

Sarah Hart Sislak, MPO director, said projects on the Visionary List do not yet have funding approved, but are identified as needed.

The list includes a sidewalk on Parker Road in Fairhope, Sislak told board members.

“We do have the Eastern Shore Trail that is on Scenic 98,” she said. “The city of Fairhope also has a path on U.S. Highway 98 that runs near Publix and this would be a connection between those two paths.”

Another sidewalk on the list proposed for Gabel Street in Montrose would also link U.S. 98 and Scenic 98.

“There is a public access to the bay near this area,” Sislak said. “We’ve received complaints that people are walking in the road to get down to the bay. This would be another connection there.”

A third sidewalk project on Baldwin County 1 is also on the list. That walkway would extend from the end of the existing sidewalk, south of Mullet Point, to Pelican Point.

Fairhope City Councilman Jack Burrell, chairman of the Policy Board, said residents have been asking for the walkways. He said the routes are used by hikers and visitors as well as residents.

“These do seem to achieve more of a regional function,” Burrell said. “They’re not in some neighborhood or in a subdivision. These are going from, say, U.S. 98 to the Eastern Shore Trail and do seem to be locations that are heavily traversed and where I see people on a daily basis walking down these areas where there are not sidewalks, so in fact, even though these are only on the Visionary List, these are some good ideas.”

Board members said residents in several areas outside municipalities have expressed a need for sidewalks. County Commissioner Billie Jo Underwood said Marlow residents walking to a store on Baldwin County 9 must walk in the street or on the dirt right of way.

Commissioner Joe Davis said officials need to find ways to pay for such projects.

“As fast as we’re growing, these are the kinds of things we need to have a dialogue here and with our communities to be able to identify the needs and then possible funding source,” Davis said.

Sislak said most funding programs are for roads. She said on possible source would be federal Transportation Alternatives Program.

Several projects on the Eastern Shore have been paid for by TAP grants. Daphne Mayor Robin LeJeune said, however, that Daphne had to wait 12 years to get approval for one sidewalk.

“We finally received that TAP grant this year. If it’s one that you want, you just have to stay at it,” he said.

LeJeune said the Daphne sidewalk will extend from apartment complexes on U.S. 98 to the shopping center where Publix and other stores are located.

“That’s a dangerous area but that’s a large ask for a TAP grant for it to be done,” LeJeune said.

Two other projects approved for the Visionary List are turn lanes on Baldwin County 13 at the intersection of Alabama 104 and turn lanes at U.S. 98 at Johnson Road in Daphne.

Sislak said the Baldwin County 13 project would provide right-turn lanes for vehicles turning onto Alabama 104. The work on U.S. 98 would build turn lanes for cars moving off the highway.