Vidalia considers bike trail, parking project through grant

Published 12:01 am Friday, February 16, 2018


By Sabrina Simms

VIDALIA — Vidalia officials will soon consider plans they hope will make the town safer and more bicycle friendly.

Email newsletter signup

Construction plans for a bike trail and parallel parking zone along Concordia Avenue were presented during Tuesday night’s aldermen meeting.

Mayor Buz Craft said the project would be beneficial and at no cost to the town. The project, if approved, would be funded through an $850,000 enhancement grant.

Craft said the Louisiana Department of Transportation began investigating ways to make the town safer soon after he came into office in 2016.

“There were some concerns about traffic along Riverside Street, under the bridge, and a truck route coming from one of the businesses over the levee,” he said. “LDOT came in. The scope of their search was around the school area up to Wilson Street and the truck route. They’ve come up with some suggestions.”

LDOT plans include repairing a hazardous curve at the corner of Wilson and Riverside Streets, enhancing entries to Concordia Avenue, and adding stop signs to the intersection of Concordia Avenue and Riverside Street.

Craft said the bike trail between Vidalia Upper and Lower Elementary schools is an additional safety as well as enhancement suggestion.

“(LDOT is) recommending some activity between the two schools … kids can maybe have a bike route … and they would fully fund it,” Craft said.

“What it’s going to do is also eliminate some of the broad areas there where traffic takes leeway. … There’s a lot of yielding and merging there. They are going to make those entries onto Concordia Avenue more defined.”

During a series of town meetings, Craft said many of the concerns about the project were about how the project would be maintained after it was built.

“We’ve had two public meetings that were not required, but we wanted to give the public input into (the project) and get their thoughts on it. It was overwhelmingly positive,” Craft said.

Aldermen plan to vote on the project during the next board meeting on March 13.

“I think people like it. There was some concern about upkeep after, but … you’ve got to take care of the street and sidewalk anyway. … The bike trail will be added to it.

“There maybe some costs for restriping and maintaining some green areas. That’s something we have staff for now.”

Alderwoman Sabrina Doré  said she has

questions that need to be answered before committing to the project.

Those questions, Doré said, include the timeline of construction and how it will affect the residents of the neighborhood and how it will it affect the existing truck route in the area.

Doré said she also wanted to determine whether the available funds are specific to Concordia Avenue and Riverside Street or whether the money could be used to fix other areas in town that need repairs.

“There are a lot of roads in Vidalia that need attention. I would rather see the money used throughout the town and not in one part. You don’t want to throw away money that the state gives you.”

Doré said no definitive date has been set for construction to take place until the town administration can vote on the project.

“If the majority of the town is for it, then so am I, 100 percent,” Doré said.

Craft said he believes he will see the project completed, and he thinks the town of Vidalia feels the same optimism.

“I want to do it,” Craft said. “I think it’s something that’s going to be positive for that area. It also makes it safer and gives the kids someplace to ride their bike in between the schools and gives them access to the riverfront … from those communities and neighborhoods. … It will be an enhancement to our area for sure.”