OGDEN — Hoping to improve safety for kids walking to and from Wasatch Elementary School, Ogden City is poised to install sidewalk in a neighborhood that hasn’t had it for more than 60 years.
The city is currently working with Bonneville Acquisitions LLC to begin right-of-way acquisitions along Polk Avenue, between 36th Street and Franklin Avenue — an area where the city plans to install the new sidewalk.
Ogden City Engineer Justin Anderson said the project won’t require anything more than construction easements, so area homes will be safe from acquisition.
Along with the new sidewalk, the city plans to make culinary water and storm drain utility improvements in the area. Many of the homes in the neighborhood were built in the late 1950s and have never had sidewalk.
Anderson said the new sidewalk will connect Wasatch Elementary, 3370 Polk Ave., to 36th Street — a route heavily used by children walking to the school. Construction is progressing on a new classroom wing and other upgrades at Wasatch, a project that was funded by Ogden School District’s $87 million bond initiative passed in 2018.
The sidewalk project was made possible by a $550,000 grant from the Wasatch Front Regional Council, Utah’s transportation planning arm. The city is also chipping in $40,300 toward the project. Anderson said the hope is to begin construction sometime this year, with the project completed by winter 2021.
According to a WFRC planning document, there are 266 single-family homes near the school that would be impacted by sidewalk. “(It’s) rare to see sidewalk missing in such close proximity to an elementary,” the document says.
Steve Larsen, a resident in the area, said the section of Polk can be dangerous at times. He said vehicles frequently travel faster than the posted 25 mph speed limit, and when Weber State University is in session, students park on the road, making for compromised sight lines.
“This has become a busier road and people treat it that way,” Larsen said. “They drive much slower on these side streets. When you have cars parked on the street, it creates a lot of blind spots, so yeah I think a sidewalk is a good idea. Having the yard torn up won’t be fun, but this area needs a sidewalk.”
Anderson said the construction work will narrow Polk Avenue slightly and once the project is finished, parking will only be allowed on one side of the street.
The Ogden City School District did not respond to a request for comment by the time of this writing.