Tyler Council to consider regional sidewalk study


The Tyler Area Metropolitan Planning Organization is looking at evaluating and improving walkability between cities in Smith County.

On Wednesday, the Tyler City Council will consider an agreement with Data Transfer Solutions for a countywide sidewalk inventory and analysis. It would cost $100,000 for the study, if the city council approves the plan, which was approved by the MPO’s board last month.

The meeting is set for 9 a.m. Wednesday in City Hall, 212 N. Bonner Ave. It is open to the public.

The MPO is purely a planning organization that looks at short- and long-range transportation plans for Tyler and surrounding communities. The group works with the Texas Department of Transportation, the Northeast Texas Regional Mobility Authority, the East Texas Council of Governments, cities and other entities to bring them all on the same page for those plans.

Data Solutions’ work will be the first phase in an Active Transportation Plan, which will look at ways to connect cities in the community through sidewalks and bikeable paths, said Michael Howell, MPO manager.

Tyler has various plans already on the books, and the goal is to bring those together into one master plan and add data from neighboring cities. Tyler has plans on sidewalks, bike routes and trails. 

“We want to pull them together into one unified plan,” Howell said.

Data Solutions will complete the first phase of the plan, which will consist of data gathering. Tyler completed a pedestrian access study in 2010, which looked at the city’s sidewalks, but nothing has been done to evaluate the sidewalk situation in other communities. The plan will also evaluate Tyler's inventory and check if its ADA compliant.

The second phase would include taking that data, analyzing it and deciding how to move forward.

“We are taking a snapshot of where we are so we can plan for where we want to go,” Howell said.

The data could be helpful in getting grants. After the city completed its pedestrian access study, it began getting grants to upgrade.

The plan would be paid for by the MPO, which is federally funded. The city of Tyler would fund the expense up front and would be reimbursed. 

In other business:

• The council will hear a presentation on the Historic Preservation Strategic Plan. The plan, however, will not be approved Wednesday. Approval is scheduled for July 24.

• The city will discuss refinancing two sets of water and wastewater bonds. Those include $4.3 million financed in 2008 and $8.2 million taken out in 2009.

• Members will be appointed to the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone No. 4, which covers the downtown area. The zone would freeze current property values, and allow a designated percentage over the current appraised value to be put into an account for projects to benefit downtown. A new board member will also be appointed to the Half-Cent Sales Tax Board.

• A tax abatement package with Crest Process Systems, Inc. will be considered.

The Tyler Morning Telegraph will attend the meeting. For updates as they happen, follow @TMTFaith on Twitter.


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Faith Harper is an East Texas native working for her hometown newspaper. She specializes in digital content for the Tyler Morning Telegraph. In her spare time, she loves tacos, road trips and is currently learning to sail.