FOLEY – New sidewalks along Cedar Street and Alabama 59 will improve pedestrian access in downtown and in residential areas that do not now have walkways.

The Foley City Council voted Monday, Feb. 5 to start design work on projects to add sidewalks from on South McKenzie Street, Alabama 59, from East Verbena Avenue to Centennial Bank and also along North Cedar Street to West Peachtree Avenue.

The two projects are the first two with the first two efforts planned as part of $1 million in new sidewalk construction in 2024.

The Verbena Avenue project is intended to improve connectivity for downtown Foley. Mayor Ralph Hellmich said adding sidewalks in the area will make the area along South McKenzie more walkable.

“This is the gap on that east side,” Hellmich said. “This will connect up our sidewalk system on 59. It’s down to that point on the east side but this is a short gap and this will once again help with our connectivity and pedestrian model.”

He said the city added sidewalks going east and west in the area around 2007. The new project will extend walkways going north and south.

“It goes east and west, but there is no north and south and this one will be connecting the downtown to that system,” Hellmich said.

The Cedar Street project will provide connectivity for North Cedar Street and Mel Rogers Park. Hellmich said the project is part of a plan to extend sidewalks north from the park along Cedar Street to Fern Avenue. Construction is also planned to continue to Peachtree Avenue and then east, across Alabama 59 to Juniper Street.

“Where it gets complicated is when you go north of Fern to Peachtree,” Hellmich said. “The plan is to use engineering and design because there’s a lot of ditches in there and it’s gonna involve surveying grades and engineering work to get it to Peachtree. Once we get to Peachtree, we’re going to turn and go all the way to Juniper.”

He said the city could have to acquire more right of way in order to build sidewalks without having to cross ditches or cut down trees.

“You have to put it behind the trees to preserve the trees,” he said. “We’re going to have to acquire about 10 feet of easement.”

Hellmich said the city is now working on projects to add sidewalks in the southwest area of Foley, near Foley High School and Florence Mathis Elementary School and in southeast Foley. Some of those projects are being funded with grant money from the federal Transportation Alternative Program, known as TAP. The city received about $1 million in TAP grant funds for sidewalk construction.