Bicycle, walking paths big parts of $12M Salem Avenue upgrade, public hears

Dozens of Dayton residents turned out to learn more about the city's plan to spend $12 million to redo Salem Avenue, a three-phase project scheduled to begin in 2021.

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The project zone involves about 1.2 miles of road from the Great Miami River to Cornell Drive.

Many of the comments during Thursday night’s public information meeting at Grace United Methodist Church,  1001 Harvard Blvd., focused on bicycle and walking paths for Salem Avenue, where significant changes will occur.

"We're trying to revitalize that lower Salem Avenue," said Joe Weinel, chief engineer design, city civil engineering office. "We're hoping with the addition of wider sidewalks, the two-way cycle track and some medians, it will become more walkable and bring more businesses into the area."

He said the meeting was told the city will have to take some people's property -- strip takes of about a foot or two wide, he called them -- because the sidewalks, which are on private property, will have to be cleaned out to be widened as part of the funding operation.

The project, to be financed with state and federal dollars, is to include:

+ A protected two-way bicycle path, from West Riverview to West Grand avenues

+ Decorative lighting

+ Pedestrian islands

+ Widened sidewalks

+ The replacement of century-old pavement

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The new cycling track, with lanes in each direction, will be separated from vehicular traffic and the roadway by a curb about 2 feet wide. There will be street light poles and signage as well.

Lower Salem Avenue will be trimmed  to five lanes from six. There will be two lanes in each direction and a center turn lane.

Will the bike path work?

"Not many people feel safe riding on Salem Avenue,” Weinel said. “Some people will, most people won't. We're giving them separated cycle tracks so they're separated from the traffic.

“We're hoping to give them something to use,” he said, “that this gets them down to downtown and the river bike way."

Some people have to have pedestrian and bicycle access, Weinel said, citing a statistic that estimates 30 to 40 percent of the city’s population does not have a driver's license.

The upgrades coincide with growing redevelopment interest and activity in the Salem Avenue corridor because of recent and planned investments, including new housing and the planned Gem City Market.

The Salem Avenue upgrade project is scheduled to roll out this way:

Phase 1 will rebuild 1,900 feet of Salem from North Avenue to Manhattan Avenue.

Phase 2 will reconstruct Salem from West Riverview Avenue to North Avenue. Work is expected to begin in 2022.

Phase 3 will improve the roadway from Manhattan Avenue to Cornell Drive. Work is expected to start and finish in 2023.

This report includes information reported by Dayton Daily News Staff Writer Cornelius Frolik.

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