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Clearing a path: Town working to rid poles from sidewalks

Posted on Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 9:44 am

Trying to walk down Main Street in Warsaw can be a bit of an obstacle course.

With poles located in the middle of sidewalks, pedestrians are often forced to either step out in the street or onto a resident’s private property in order to navigate the circa 1933 walkway.

This is a situation that local officials are hoping to soon change.

On Feb. 7, Town Manager John Slusser met with representatives from VDOT and Dominion Power to discuss ways to move the poles into more appropriate areas.

“The town’s anxiety is about the poles in sidewalks on Main Street and Route 360,” Slusser said in a follow-up interview, adding that a franchise agreement allows Dominion to place poles only in “proper places.”

“We are saying that where the poles are puts people in harms way,” Slusser said.

Current conditions are also in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which states that sidewalks must be navigable for

those who rely on wheelchairs, walkers and any other devices.

Slusser said that although the specific issue did not come up during last week’s meeting, it had been addressed in the past.

“The whole thing is that [Dominion] recognizes and has registered the town’s displeasure and they have agreed to work with the town to try to improve sidewalks and relocate utilities,” Slusser said. “The issue is that we have to determine easements. We cannot do this by ourselves, we need the help of property owners.”

Slusser added that what the town is trying to achieve is a “win-win” situation whereby sidewalks could be improved, poles relocated, driveways broadened and traffic onto and off of Route 360 made safer and easier.

Slusser said that VDOT indicated they didn’t want poles on sidewalks either.

“We are going to look at highway safety money and work with available funds to not just relocate poles, but invest in sidewalks, even put new sidewalks from Jones Lane to Route 360,” Slusser said, adding that the venture will rely on public cooperation.

“We will meet with individual property owners and we are hopeful that they will be willing to work with us,” he said. “This is definitely a top priority.”

Slusser said that he hopes to have an update on the project in upcoming weeks.