Friday, August 02, 2013

TOP STORY >> Federal grant to pay for sidewalk

Leader staff writer

It may have been the third try that was the charm, or possibly even the fourth, but the federal money that Cabot tried to get for many years to pay for a sidewalk for Magness Creek Elementary has finally been approved.

Mayor Bill Cypert, in an e-mail, announced approval of two grants to pay for the more than $300,000 project and that Brian Boroughs, director of Cabot Public Works, deserves much of the credit for it.

The project has not yet been designed, but Boroughs estimates its length at between 750 and 1,000 feet. It will run from behind the school, through the woods, over a prefabricated truss bridge over Magness Creek and end at Magness Creek North subdivision.

Eddie Cook, head of operations for the city, said that, at the very least, the new sidewalk will keep some parents from having to get onto Hwy. 5 to drop off and pick up their kids.

Boroughs, who has been head of public works since January 2012, said Friday that he had never written grant proposals before so he asked for help from the experts at Central Arkansas Planning and Development in Lonoke.

Together, they went over the old grant proposals and added details they hoped would make a difference in the outcome.

The proposal he turned in last year for a Safe Routes to School grant from the state highway department included more details about connectivity as well as proof that the city already had the needed right of ways which made the project “shovel-ready.”

“We took it step by step,” he said.

Boroughs said he asked for $326,000, but was approved for $98,000.

At the same time he applied for the Safe Routes to School grant, he also applied for a grant from Metroplan, which also administers federal highway money. The project was approved for $215,000.

The city will have to pay a minimum match of $53,750, but, anticipating approval of some grant money, the match was included in the 2013 budget for sidewalks.

Designing the project will likely take three months, Boroughs said. By that time, winter will be near and working in the woods during the cold rainy months could be a problem. So, most likely, the project won’t be put out for bids until the first quarter of 2014, he said.

In addition to the concrete sidewalk and bridge, the project will include trail lighting. The bridge alone is projected to cost $100,000, Boroughs said.