City Builds New Sidewalks

City Builds New Sidewalks

Juniors Hannah Li and Caie Kelley walk on the new sidewalks.

Caroline Colwell, Staff Writer

The City of Orinda began construction on the new Moraga Way sidewalks on Oct. 8.

The new sidewalks stretch from El Camino Moraga to Ivy Drive on the west side of the street. The five-foot wide pathways are divided between a bike lane as well as a pedestrian pathway.

The new pathways were voted on by City Council, which held several meetings with members of the public during its development. The plans for the Moraga Way Pedestrian Pathway Project were proposed at the City Council meeting held Jan. 24, 2012 at Miramonte High School. On June 9 City Council approved the final plans and specifications for the projects, and on Aug. 21 City Council met and authorized the construction contract.

According to the City Council Notice of Proposed project, “it is an important walkway link to both an elementary school and to a high school within this residential area.” The sidewalks provide a safer path for the elementary school children walking to Del Rey Elementary.

“Overall I’m glad they built them, if not for me, then for the younger kids who walk,” junior Matt Cohen said, who uses the paths every morning on the way to school. “The only time I felt threatened was when cars would pass other cars that were turning by driving in the bike lanes. Many would just ignore me. It’s also nice not worrying about bikes.”

The project also includes pedestrian landing areas defined by curbs on each corner. Local residents are frustrated by these new additions.

“I have two issues with the new sidewalks,” junior Caie Kelley said. “The first is that they are completely unnecessary and a waste of funds. The second is the new curbs on the corners. If I’m driving from Miramonte they force me to take dangerously wide turns, while coming towards Miramonte I block traffic while I wait for oncoming traffic to clear.”

Because the new sidewalks block cars from going around turning vehicles, traffic buildup has increased on Moraga Way.

“The purpose of the turn restrictions is to prevent cut through and speeding traffic to the side streets,” Orinda City Engineer Janice Carey said. “Students can always leave for school a little bit earlier to miss traffic slow-downs.”

With the new sidewalks, the City of Orinda now prohibits parking on the west side of Moraga Way between El Camino Moraga and Ivy Drive.

“I used to park on Moraga Way every morning,” junior Claire Ramer said.  “Now that I have to park in the J-Lot, I wait at school an extra 15 minutes just to avoid the traffic leaving school.”

Construction costs alone were estimated at $224,396, while total estimated expenses amounted to $319,241. Total funding was $340,930, and came from money collected through park dedication fees, local traffic impact fees, gas taxes and through grant funding from the Safe Routes to School grant program.

Many Orinda residents are frustrated by the use of funds for the new sidewalks.

The curbs on either side of the pathway inhibit drainage and make the walk to school more difficult when it rains.

“When it rains more water congregates on the path and it’s like walking through a huge puddle,” Cohen said. “But even with the minor annoyance of the puddles I think it was definitely a good idea.”