The Mayfield Bikeway will connect the Graves County Library with Kess Creek Park by the end of the year, but it will do so mainly using existing streets.
Bicycles will share lane space with motor vehicles for most of the route, according to plans engineering firm HDR Inc. presented at Monday’s Mayfield City Council meeting, along with the Purchase Area Development District, grant administrator.
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet approved the route last month, said Bjarne Hansen of the PADD office. The next step will be for the project to be let for bid before construction can begin.
Painted bicycle symbols will indicate to motorists that bicycles have equal rights to use the lanes, said Scott Brown of HDR, which is based in Omaha, Nebraska, but has a Paducah office. The firm’s previous experience includes designing the fourth phase of the Paducah Greenway Trail as well as a bikeway and pedestrian streetscape project in Boston.
Brown said the engineering firm proposed the shared lanes approach so that parking would not be eliminated downtown, which would have been necessary if a separate bicycle lane had been added.
“So what you’re saying is the markings on the streets will designate that’s where bikes are going to be, but there will be regular vehicles on there, too?” councilman Nick Summers asked and was told he was correct.
Hansen said there had been a lot of discussion with state officials about not over-building the bikeway, but instead providing something appropriate for Mayfield’s size and designing it in a way that would make state and federal dollars go farther. The city received a $632,500 federal Transportation Alternatives Program grant for the bikeway, which requires the city to provide 20 percent of the funding.
“We don’t foresee this project taking the full amount of the projected budget,” Hansen said.
Originally, Ric Watson, former director of the Icehouse Gallery, had administrated the grant, which was awarded in 2016. His plans for the route had been different, but the state did not sign off on them, city council members said previously after approving more funding for additional engineering work on the route. The PADD office later took over the grant administration after Watson left his position at the Icehouse.
“I know we’ve had some ups and downs with this, and we are moving forward,” Hansen said.
The bikeway will require some new construction in the form of paved trails in the city’s right of way, mainly near Lions Club Park and the library at the north end of the bikeway and, at the south end, near where the bikeway will enter Kess Creek Park at the end of the paved portion of Ninth Street.
“It’s a dirt path now,” Scott said of where the bikeway will enter Kess Creek Park. “Why not pave it and make it where a stroller can be pushed down it?”
Councilman Johnny Jackson, who rides his bicycle around town daily, expressed concerns about the shared lane approach.
“That’s most unusual with what bike trails I have ridden on,” he said.
Most bicycle trails have a separate, 4-foot lane, he said.
“The state wouldn’t approve a lane of less than 10 feet,” Brown said. Plus, he said, having the separate lane would mean people would no longer be able to park in front of their homes where the bikeway passes through residential areas.
Brown said the firm had checked traffic counts with the transportation cabinet in planning the route.
“On a lot of these streets, you can walk up and down and barely see a car,” Brown said.
Jackson questioned that as well, including pointing out where the bikeway passes through the downtown area. Council members also asked where the bikeway would cross U.S. 45 and were told it would do so near Harmon Park.
Brown said using the shared lanes also saves on expenses because a separate bicycle lane also would have required separate maintenance from the rest of the streets, creating more of an ongoing cost.
The route is not one single path in several parts of town, instead having multiple branches in its initial phase. More connecting streets could be added to the route later, Brown said.
The routes will include portions of Clark, Housman, West Lockridge, North 15th, North 11th, James, North Sixth, North, South Fifth, South, South Sixth, Water, South First, South Seventh, College, Douthitt, East Farthing, South Eighth and South Ninth streets as well as Charles and Commonwealth drives and Central Avenue, according to a map Brown showed the council. The various routes will pass by the YMCA, Graves County Courthouse, City Hall, commercial businesses, most public parks and government offices, he said.
Although Jackson said it was not what he originally envisioned as a bicyclist, ultimately, he said, “I’m glad we’re getting it, and it sure can’t hurt anything, that’s for sure.”
Other portions of Monday’s city council meeting were extremely brief.
The council approved the second reading of the 2019-20 budget, which begins July 1, the second reading of the final amendments to the 2018-19 budget and an ordinance updating and revising the city’s sewer use ordinance, required periodically to remain in federal compliance. All passed 9-0 with councilwoman Jana Adams absent from Monday’s meeting.
The 2019-20 budget totals more than $10.7 million, up from nearly $10.6 million from the 2018-19 fiscal year. The budget also includes $98,100 in capital expenditures, including $19,000 for the purchase of a police dog and training of it and its handler, 10 self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) units for the fire department for $64,000, a 61-inch zero-turn mower for the public works department for $9,100, $2,000 in office furniture for planning and zoning and $4,000 for the mayor’s office to update the camera and visual aids in the council chambers.
Following the completion of its other business, the council then took a roughly 1½-hour bus tour of properties within the city that have had multiple code enforcement complaints against them before adjourning aboard the bus.