Sidewalk and Trail Masterplan
Executive Summary - 2021 Update
The purpose of the Sidewalk and Trail Masterplan is to serve as the Town’s guide to the development of its system of sidewalks, ramps, sidepaths and trails. In a more dynamic sense, the Masterplan is the guide for how best to gradually transform Plainfield’s existing system into its desired future vision.
Identifying the existing system:
In order to be that guide, the Masterplan first focuses on providing an inventory of what the existing system is - identifying all of the trails, sidepaths, sidewalks and ramps, and then further detailing their width, material, and who is responsible for maintaining each part. All of the information was placed into the Town’s Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping. Understanding the existing system was capped with a full field assessment to evaluate its physical condition and degree of accessibility.
- The Masterplan sets standards for building sidewalks, sidepaths and trails. ADA compliance is a starting point. Examples are minimum width, clearance, and edge conditions.
- The Standards consider the expected users, location, type of facility, and its importance in the overall network.
- There are many standards, but the width of a pathway is key in how well it supports bi-directional pedestrian and bicycle traffic. 10’ is the minimum, and 12’ is the desired width for the most important pathways.
- The Standards set the expectation for future construction, as well as the measure how existing pavements serve their desired function in the system.
- These Standards are expected to be applied to the Town’s projects and to the review and approval of private development.
Developing a Vision:
After completing the inventory of the existing system, the Masterplan develops a vision of what the fully completed system should include: New, upgraded and repaired pathways completing desired connections between residents and the places they want to go - to work, eat, shop, and recreate.
Key elements of the vision include:
- Connecting both new and underserved neighborhoods to the trails.
- Adding sidewalks to the Town’s older core.
- Emphasizing user experience, amenities and accessibility (ADA)
- Completing loops that offer choices to users and together provide an interconnected web or network.
- Providing a balanced mix of exciting new connections but also maintains existing pathways.
Involving the Public in the Process:
Due to the pandemic, public involvement was completed with mailed and online notifications, surveys, conference calls and email rather than in-person meetings. This didn’t diminish the interest and enthusiasm of stakeholders. More than 75 respondents provided over 100 comments. These were used to identify possible project needs and to identify those of greatest public interest. Known ADA Stakeholders were also contacted for their ideas on the projects that would be most helpful to them.
Identifying a Wide Variety of Projects:
The Masterplan process identified over 300 project needs of all the types listed above. In total, 102 miles of new, upgrade, or repair pathway projects were identified. The detailed lists also note that the approximate cost of the full buildout approaches $80 Million. Achieving the Town’s vision will require a sustained, long-term commitment of revenue and effort.
Prioritizing Projects on a Limited Budget:
The final step offered by the Masterplan is a ranking of project needs based on serving residents, connecting key destinations, addressing condition issues, and supporting other important local initiatives.
The Masterplan’s vision is large and comprehensive. It includes detailed lists and maps to assist decision makers in determining where investments should be made. But it is flexible and only a starting point: Funding, other Town road and utility projects, opportunities from private development, State and other community projects— all should be considered.