Lawrence Starbuck is glad that, after 45 years, a half-mile gap in the sidewalks along Airport Road is going to be fixed.
Lawrence Starbuck, 72, stands along Airport Road on June 24, 2010.
A $243,000 federal transportation grant will pay for the new concrete.
It will replace a “cattle trail” blazed over the decades by folks trying to reach stores on South Circle Drive. Here’s a look at it from FlashEarth.com:
Here’s the trail, from the spot where an existing sidewalk ends and the dirt begins. This view looks west from South Chelton Road:
Here is a view to the east, from Jewel Street, at the trail along Airport Road.
For years, Lawrence has worried about the people trudging up the trail. Sometimes it is muddy or frozen over with ice. In summer, it is a weedy, brush-filled jungle.
The south side of Airport is no better. In fact, it’s far worse. No one should try to bushwhack along the south side.
It’s so bad, folks on wheelchairs have to detour onto Michigan Avenue. They can’t use the sidewalk along Michigan because trees have pushed up the sidewalk, right in front of Lawrence’s house, creating dangerous ledges.
Lawrence is happy the gap in the sidewalk is finally being fixed. But he has a concern. He’s worried about how he’ll keep the new sidewalk clear of snow in the winter.
It’s a half-mile trip from his front door around the block to the sidewalk. That won’t be easy in winter with snow and ice around. Especially not with his bad hips.
He can’t simply go through his backyard because the developer in 1965 built a chainlink fence the length of Airport behind all the houses.
Mike Chavez, the city engineer overseeing the sidewalk project, said city ordinances require adjacent landowners to maintain sidewalks.
But he said it’s obvious this is a unique situation. He said the city is looking for a way to relieve Lawrence and his neighbors of snow removal responsibility.