Community input sought regarding bike, pedestrian paths

Bike lanes are already in place along some roads in Corbin. | Photo by Erin Cox

CORBIN — For more than seven years multiple individuals and organizations have been researching and working to develop a plan to address health, safety and tourism issues within the city. Last Monday evening the City of Corbin voted and approved the Corbin Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan during the Corbin City Commission meeting.

The endeavor was a team effort between the Cumberland Valley Area Development District, Whitley County Health Department, City of Corbin, Corbin City Schools, Corbin’s downtown programs, Corbin Tourism, and community members. This plan will assist in planning for sidewalk improvements for ADA compliance, signage, and more.

Regional Transportation Planner with CVADD, Jessica Blankenship, one of the plan's leaders, addressed members of the commission. In the last year since approaching the commission about the plan, Blankenship, along with several city officials, have conducted studies on citizen’s concerns when it comes to the city’s sidewalks.

After conducting the projects, Blankenship said the biggest takeaways were making sure Corbin’s sidewalks were ADA compliant, having the appropriate amount of signage to point out existing bike routes and pedestrian crossings, and that the group was able to identify the need of a sidewalk along Master Street.

“We were able to identify due to a walkability audit, a lot of our downtown crosswalks, the signals were not signaling,” said Blankenship. “We immediately identified those and within a week the transportation cabinet came down and fixed those issues.”

The plan (which partly originated in 2013 when then downtown manager Andy Salmons did a bike study) focuses on bicycle and pedestrian needs and facilities in Corbin. According to Kentucky’s Vision for Access to Physical Activity Report, active transportation, such as walking or bicycling, allows residents to get physical activity while performing daily routines, such as commuting to work or school. Walking is one of the most popular forms of physical exercise for adults because it does not require special skills or expensive equipment.

The plan lists a number of reasons to promote walking and bicycling in Corbin including, improved public health, improved mobility, enhanced economy and quality of life.

Blankenship told the Times-Tribune that Beatty Avenue, Gordon Street, Fifth Street and Master Street were some of the streets that were mentioned the most in surveys or from social media feedback. In developing the master plan, city and state officials have already been working to improve some of the items within the master plan.

“Gordon Hill was one of the top concerns because the sidewalks are so narrow,” said Blankenship. “But a lot of it had steps in it so it wasn’t even ADA compliant.”

This project was funded last year.

“Suzie (Razmus) is very passionate about ADA accessibility,” said Blankenship.

That being said, Razmus and Tourism Director Maggy Kriebel helped relocate the large flower pots that were previously on the sidewalk corners of downtown blocking access to those in wheelchairs.

Blankenship and her peers will also begin to study and watch pedestrian traffic at the new splash pad to see if any plans need to be made near that location.

Those involved with the master plan project have bee committed to making Master Street in Corbin a safer place for citizens. Information that came in from survey and social media commentary was extremely beneficial, said Blankenship.

In February Blankenship and Razmus met with Transportation Secretary Jim Gray, Representative Regina Huff and Senate President Robert Stivers explaining that over the course of 10 years five individuals died on Master Street due to pedestrian and bicycle incidents. Blankenship said Gray commented that, that was five too many.

The city of Corbin is awaiting word from the state on funding for the Master Street project.

Kathy Lay, another individual instrumental in the master plan, is planning several upcoming walks that community members may want to look out for in the upcoming weeks.

By creating a master plan and having the city adopt it, the city can identify that it conducted various projects to address the aforementioned issues and can then apply for assistance through the use of grants. Blankenship mentioned that by having this approved plans grants funds can help pay for items in the plan.

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