Lynchburg City Council votes to fund Florida Avenue sidewalk

City Council members voted 5 to 2

LYNCHBURG, Va. – It was a tense work session meeting Tuesday afternoon for Lynchburg’s City Council members.

“The argument that is being made is that it is inherently less safe to put a sidewalk in there is laughable,” Beau Wright, at-large City Council member, said.

“And with that I’ll reiterate it for some of us that were ahead of the class,” Jeff S. Helgeson, Ward III representative, said.

The argument on the table, a $9.9 million sidewalk project for Florida Avenue. City leaders say its unsafe for people who have to walk in that neighborhood.

“There’s very little clearance. So if someone was coming and driving through it’d be very difficult for a pedestrian to get out of the way,” Reid Wodicka, deputy city manager, said.

It was clear who was in favor and who wasn’t.

This plan actually makes it more dangerous for the citizens,” Helgeson said. 

“After 17 years I support the sidewalk on Florida Avenue,” Sterling Wilder, Ward II representative, said.

This comes after the Lynchburg Fire Association released a campaign video “The Sidewalk to Nowhere” suggesting the city use the money to address the department's staff pay and shortage issues calling the city’s spending habit frivolous.

The deputy city manager through a PowerPoint presentation clarified details and questions council members and the public have about the project. 
Wodicka also explained the timeline of the project, which will be in two phases:The first phase will be for design, right-of-way acquisition, utility relocation and phase two will be construction.

In the presentation the options for new transportation were like a city bus, which city leaders recently discovered a bus can go through the train trestle.

“Operating that full vehicle (bus) could cost about $205,000 per year,” Wodicka said.

“I am very disheartened for a number of years a community was told a route couldn’t go through,” Mayor Treney Tweedy said.

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