By Aaron Arnstein

A nearly four-year infrastructure project aiming to make University Park more pedestrian-friendly is on the verge of completion.

The town council met Feb. 5 to discuss plans for the upcoming fiscal year and address major issues. Finishing various infrastructure projects is at the top of the council’s agenda. The town aims to finish sidewalk improvements in time for the new school year.

In the upcoming months, Underwood Street, College Heights Drive and Clagett-Pineway will all undergo sidewalk construction. This will allow residents to safely walk from University Park into College Park. The town council made the decision to undergo sidewalk improvements with schoolchildren in mind, according to Ward 6 Councilmember Martha Wells, who also heads the town’s Police, Traffic & Public Safety Committee. 

“The strategy is to be sure that all of our children can walk to the elementary school [University Park Elementary School] on a sidewalk,” Wells said. The remaining work will cost $1.1 million, according to Mayor Len Carey. The infrastructure project is set to cost slightly under $3 million in total, which exceeds the initial cost of $2.6 million, Carey said. 

The sidewalk improvements received pushback from homeowners in Ward 7. The area has a more rural feel to it, Wells said, and the community prefers to keep it that way.

The infrastructure project also includes improving the town’s roadways to accommodate pedestrians. The roadway improvements were made in part due to residents’ concerns over drivers speeding in school zones, Wells said. The roadwork began nearly three years ago at the recommendation of the Police, Traffic & Public Safety Committee. Most of the work has since been completed.  

The town also removed a roadside power pole and cut down numerous trees that stood in the way of sidewalk construction. New curb cuts were added in various places around town as well.