Cunningham Park Elementary School students who walk to school each day came one step closer to having a safer path Monday as the Vienna Town Council awarded a contract for a Safe Routes to Schools (SRTS) sidewalk project along Harmony Drive and Lullaby Lane.
The council awarded a survey and design contract to Rinker Design Associates for an estimated cost of $44,679 for a sidewalk along Harmony Drive SE, between Park Street and Lullaby Lane, and a sidewalk on Lullaby Lane SE, between Tapawingo Road and Harmony Drive.
In June, the Virginia Department of Transportation granted the Town of Vienna's request of $300,000 for the project. VDOT's Safe Routes to School Program
Council members approved the contract on a 6-1 vote at their regular meeting Monday, with Councilman Howard Springsteen as the dissenting vote.
The vote came after a discussion with two Harmony Drive residents who spoke against the decision to place the sidewalk along the north side of Harmony Drive.
With the sidewalk on the north side, a crosswalk would be drawn at the intersection of Harmony Drive and Park Street to get to Cunningham Park Elementary.
"If the issue is safety ... it just makes more sense to me to not allow the kids to cross at the busy road rather than inside the block down the street," resident Mike Hines said.
By awarding the contract Monday, the Council ruled out having a survey done on both the south side and north side, as the cost of a dual survey was not included in the proposal before Council.
Department of Public Works Director Dennis Johnson estimated the total cost of the project would increase if sidewalks were to be built on the south side because the road slopes at a steeper grade, but no formal cost estimate has been given.
Hines and neighbor Alan Lindsay also emphasized a desire for neighbors to be involved in the design because of the many trees they would like to see protected.
"[T]rees, trees, trees. If you walk down that street you will see there are numerous trees that are in the easement or close to," Lindsay said. "If the sidewalk is built as it's been described, my other neighbor has a beautiful tree there, and you can just see the limbs are going to have to come off that and it's just a beautiful tree."
Johnson said more citizen input will be requested as the project moves along, and a town arborist will be called upon to make an assessment on any trees in the area. Citizens will be notified by mail of a public meeting on the designs.