Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014
News

New sidewalk attracting pedestrians to Waterfall Drive

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SPRING HILL - Five months ago, when crews started construction of a 5-foot-wide sidewalk on Waterfall Drive, resident John Perry was upset.

There was no need, he said, for the county to spend $280,000 on a sidewalk he believes leads to nowhere.

Perry said Tuesday he still believes the strip of pavement along the west side of the road and extending from County Line Road to Spring Hill Drive isn't much good if people want to reach stores.

But he said he's changed his mind about its usefulness, especially after seeing how many pedestrians and bikers are now frequenting Waterfall Drive - even before it's completely done.

Perry lives off Garrison Street, which abuts Waterfall, and he admits he's been on the sidewalk to walk his dachshund Heidi. That is, until he was told by workers to keep off until the entire length of the sidewalk is finished.

"It's still a sidewalk to nowhere per se," Perry said. "It's a mile to Kass Circle on Spring Hill drive to a Dollar General on County Line Road."

But Perry said people are now able to stay off busy Waterfall Drive and even his neighbor has been on it with his wheelchair.

"I still don't really think it goes anywhere but people are using it," Perry said. "So I changed my mind."

County commissioners voted unanimously in September to award the sidewalk contract to Florida Safety Contractors, one of four bidders. The Florida Department of Transportation is footing the bill.

County transportation officials said Waterfall Drive is a major roadway and sidewalks were needed.

Steve Diez, county transportation planner, said the primary reason for installing a sidewalk along the 1.5-mile stretch of Waterfall Drive is safety. There are many people who live there who would walk but don't want to take their chances on busy Waterfall, which has a posted speed limit of 30 mph.

Diez said the project has proceeded without any glitches and the sidewalk is almost finished. Waterfall Drive, he said, is a "huge north-south connection" leading to two major roads: Spring Hill Drive and County Line Road.

Diez believes it will be used by school kids headed to the bus, bikers and pedestrians. The state is installing these sidewalks on any new road projects, he said.

"It gets people out of the roadway and gives them a safe place to walk," Diez said.

mbates@hernandotoday.com

(352) 544-5290

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