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2016-2021 City Sidewalk Programs


Beginning with fiscal year 2015/2016, the City Commission began allocating substantially more funding toward sidewalks. At that time, the City Commission expressed the desire to accelerate the sidewalk gap and infill program city-wide. The City Commission has also identified that walkability and respect for pedestrians is a deeply-held value of the citizens of the City of Traverse City. This is supported by the Traverse City Master Plan which emphasizes that "transportation choices are important to our vitality and environmental health." In 2011, the City Commission adopted a Complete Streets Policy that enables safe and convenient access for all legal road users, including pedestrians.

Staff worked to implement the sidewalk goal set by the City Commission by exploring two tracks: a Safe Routes to School infrastructure grant program and an equity-based sidewalk gap and infill project, primarily targeted at Traverse Heights neighborhood which was identified as underserved with pedestrian connectivity. Both project tracks were supported by City Commission resolutions.

Implementation of the sidewalk programs began in 2016 and were included with road reconstruction projects, the Sidewalk Preservation Project, the Sidewalk Gap & Infill Project, and Safe Routes to School. This level of investment was nearly $8 million and was completed in 2021.


There are two concurrent sidewalk projects underway. Each project is explained below.


The City Commission approved the Sidewalk Preservation Project in May 2018 to repair over 3 miles of existing sidewalks with condition assessment ratings of "poor" or "very poor". The two-year construction project was awarded to Elmer's Crane and Dozer. Work began in May of 2018 on the west side of the city. Work began on the east side of the city in May 2019.

The City Commission approved the use of a consultant, Machin Engineering, for the engineering and design for the Sidewalk Gap and Infill Project in August 2018 and approved a three-year construction contract to Elmer's Crane and Dozer in April 2019 for the Sidewalk Gap and Infill Project. The project includes approximately 9.4 miles of new sidewalk primarily in the Traverse Heights neighborhood, Garfield Avenue and East Front Street. Construction of Phase 1 is scheduled to begin in July 2019 and conclude in 2021.



Today, only 13% of kids actively travel to school, compared to 48% in 1969. Among those living within a 1.4 mile of school, just 56% walk or bike. Safe Routes to School is a movement that aims to make it safer and easier for students to walk or bike to school. The most successful programs incorporate the Six E's: evaluation, education, encouragement, engineering, enforcement, and equity.

Since 2005, Safe Routes to School Programs have bene ted more than 14,000 schools in all 50 states. The demand continues to grow, especially within low-income communities, communities of color, and rural communities, where it is hard for anyone to safely and conveniently walk, bicycle, or get physical activity.

The City Commission approved a resolution of support on October 24, 2016 to begin working on a city-wide Safe Routes to School (SR2S) program. The project partners include representatives from Michigan Fitness Foundation, Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS), Grand Traverse Area Catholic Schools (GTACS), Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District (TBAISD), TC Trinity Lutheran, Norte, TART Trails and more.

The ten schools participating are:

  • TBAISD New Campus School- 1100 Silver Drive
  • TBAISD Oak Park Campus-301 S. Garfield Ave
  • TCAPS Montessori School at Glenn Loomis- 1009 Oak Street
  • TCAPS Willow Hill Elementary-1250 Hill Street
  • TCAPS Central Grade School- 301 W. Seventh Street
  • TCAPS Eastern Elementary School- 1600 Eastern Avenue
  • TCAPS Traverse Heights Elementary- 933 Rose Street
  • TCAPS West Middle School- 3950 Silver Lake Road
  • GTACS Immaculate Conception Elementary School- 218 Vine Street
  • Trinity Lutheran School- 1003 S. Maple Street

In July of 2018, the City received notification from the Michigan Department of Transportation that the multi-school Safe Routes to School (SRTS) infrastructure grant was received for over $2M with a conditional commitment for 4.9 miles of linear trail/sidewalk expansion, bike lanes, traffic calming, crosswalk improvements and signage upgrades. The City hired Landtech in early 2019 to conduct topographic surveying and mapping. Once survey data is received, City Staff will begin design work to satisfy the conditions outlined in the Conditional Commitment which include historical, environmental and technical approvals. The proposed project schedule includes construction in spring and summer of 2021 for all locations in the Safe Routes to School project scope.


Alex R. Yockey, P.E.

Civil Engineer II

City Engineering Department

231-922-4468 (office)


1. Do I have to pay for this sidewalk?

No, there will be no out-of-pocket expenses for property owners.

2. Where will the sidewalk be located?

The planned sidewalks will be 6 feet wide and will generally be located 18 inches from the property line/right-of-way line. The placement of sidewalk in this location maximizes space between the sidewalk and the street edge for winter snow storage. The placement of the sidewalk further away from the street edge allows for space for a tree lawn and makes it a more safe and comfortable environment for pedestrians. Sidewalk alignment is preferred to be as straight as possible for people with disabilities and for winter maintenance purposes.

3. Who will maintain the sidewalk concrete?

The City will.

4. Who is required to provide snow clearing of the sidewalk?

Residents and business owners are responsible for the removal of any snow and ice that accumulates on the sidewalks immediately adjacent to their property. The City's Department of Public Services is committed to clearing sidewalks after major snow events, with priorities being primary corridors and sidewalks near schools. However, during prolonged snowfalls, sidewalks may not be cleared for several days and there are portions of the sidewalk network that are not cleared by the City.

5. What will happen with the existing trees in the treelawn (area between the street and sidewalk)?

There are over 14 miles of new sidewalk being constructed city-wide and there will be areas where trees will be affected. We assess each location, consider alternatives, and perform cost benefit analysis. Mature trees are to be saved when possible.

6. If a tree is removed, what are the plans for tree replacement?

Any tree that is removed from the treelawn will be reported to the Parks Division. Each location that has a tree removed will be replanted whenever site conditions will support a new tree. Replacement trees will be planted within one year during the annual spring or fall tree planting season.

7. Will the sidewalk go through my driveway?

Yes, the city extends sidewalk through driveways and alleys. The purpose for this is to make drivers aware this is a shared spaced with pedestrians and is a requirement of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). In some cases entire driveway approaches will need to be reconstructed (by the City) to accommodate these design requirements. Prior to construction there will be coordination between the engineering department and driveway owner.

8. My parking area in my driveway will now extend over the sidewalk. Can I park over the sidewalk?

No, you cannot park over a public sidewalk.

9. My yard and the tree lawn are sloped. How will the sidewalk be constructed through it?

Each location with a grading challenge is assessed prior to construction. A grading plan and/or construction limits staking will be provided for the owner for review. In some cases the City will request a temporary grading easement to construct and restore new slopes to accommodate the sidewalk. In other cases a retaining wall may be constructed.

10. When will my street get sidewalks?

It depends on which project your street is included in and the construction timing for each project. Please refer to the project map documents above. If you have questions, please contact Alex Yockey (see above).

11. Will my property taxes go up due to the new sidewalk?

Sidewalks do not specifically increase Taxable Value. The market determines value, which is based on neighborhood characteristics.

12. I have privately owned things (landscaping, irrigation, and fencing) in right-of-way or public tree lawn. What should I do?

Contact Alex Yockey to conduct an assessment (see above). Items may need to be removed or amended at owner cost. If items are not moved or amended as requested, then City may do it for them for a cost. An exception is irrigation. Irrigation in the right-of-way or public tree lawn will be repaired/amended by the City at no cost to the owner.

13. My street does not have a curb. Will a curb be constructed with this project?

No. Funds available for sidewalk construction generally do not include street improvements. If you'd like to consider having curb added to your street the City does have a process for Special Improvement Districts where property owners share the cost to make certain improvements with the City. Please contact Alex Yockey for more information.

14. Where is my property boundary?

Contact Alex Yockey (see above) to request a GIS parcel boundary map. Please note that GIS maps are not property surveys but are generally accurate.

15. I have more questions. Who do I contact?

Alex Yockey is the staff contact. He is the Civil Engineer II in the City Engineering Department. Please submit your concerns or questions in writing. He can be reached at


4/6/2021: Fern Street Sidewalk Construction

4/15/2021: Safe Routes to Eastern Elementary

5/3/2021: Safe Routes to Traverse Heights Elementary

5/7/2021: Hastings Street Sidewalk Construction

5/14/2021: Safe Routes to TBAISD Oak Park

5/27/2021: Safe Route to the Civic Center

6/3/2021: Safe Routes to Glenn Loomis and Trinity Lutheran

6/17/2021: Garfield Sidewalk Construction

6/24/2021: Safe Routes to Central Grade School

This page last updated on 10/18/2021.