After a Long Wait, Maplewood Avenue Gets Its Sidewalk

Written by Brendan Wittstruck

Maplewood sidewalk. Photo by Brendan Wittstruck.After sixty five years of weed-wading and car dodging, Maplewood Avenue pedestrians are getting their own space.

Bascom Giles did not include sidewalks when he developed the Delwood III neighborhood we now know as “Duplex Nation”. And why would he? It was 1948 and the seductive promise of speed, freedom and the American highway was a resonant cry guiding hasty post-war development. Why walk when the car was whispering such sweet nothings into the Nation’s ears? Maplewood Elementary would not be built for another four years, and there were no cries for the safety of kids walking in the street to school.

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How times change. Fueled by arguments of safe walking passage to the school and timed to follow the conclusion of the Maplewood Elementary school year, the City has begun construction on a sidewalk extension along Maplewood Avenue between Ashwood Road and Wilshire Boulevard. This sidewalk, built at a City standard five feet in length and in accordance with ADA standards, will curve along the street’s western edge and mark the first protected pedestrian right-of-way in the now historically protected neighborhood.

Maplewood residents were notified in print of the construction project in early June. City of Austin Project Manager John Eastman described the construction scope, which “includes new sidewalk construction, small retaining walls, replacement of some existing curb and gutter, installation of curb ramps, relocation of water meters, and limited driveway reconstruction”, noting too that the project is expected to take approximately eight weeks to complete.

After two weeks of construction, progress is already clearly visible: ADA access has been added to both sidewalk ends at Wilshire Boulevard and the bright white of new concrete now stretches halfway to Kirkwood Road. Telltale asphalt patches along the street show that water mains have already been relocated for most of the project. The inscription “KIRA ‘14” has already staked its long-term claim on the sidewalk surface.

The Maplewood sidewalk is just one part of Cherrywood’s sidewalk master plan and the single sidewalk is an effort by the City, who typically would install sidewalks on both sides of the street, to recognize the neighborhood wishes and character.

The project is funded through a Transportation Enhancement Grant through TxDOT with matching funds from the City, allowing it to progress while other Cherrywood sidewalk plans under the Group 21 sidewalk improvement scope languish in hopes of future funding. The City recently announced that funding for Group 21 projects, anticipated this summer, is not currently available and those projects are on indefinite hold. Meanwhile, a welcome bit of pedestrian comfort is arriving on a patient street.

Residents looking for more information on this project are invited to contract John Eastman at or (512) 974-7025.

 

 

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