Sidewalk woes prompt repairs in downtown Canton
A deteriorating section of sidewalk causing grief in downtown Canton could soon get a long-term fix.
The sidewalk and grate at the base of Mears Avenue has been the cause of at least one injury because of its downward slope.
The long grate serves as drainage for rain that flows off the amply nick named "steep street" to those who live in town. Traffic on the road above the grate has made a depression in that section, which is used as a cross walk.
"Trucks turning onto Mears Avenue have beaten that down. It's been a continual battle because it causes that storm drain and sidewalk to take a lot of impacts and deteriorate," said Town Manager Al Matthews.
Johnetta Heil, owner of the Plaid Sheep downtown, was walking across that grate back to her store from the pet store on Main Street in early February when the sloped sidewalk caused her foot to roll sideways.
The incident broke a bone in her foot and she was instructed to wear a boot for several weeks, from which she said she is still having residual side effects.
"I had told them a number of times before this that I have stumbled and that the grate was not even down there," Heil said.
She recently addressed the town board during a meeting, urging them to find a fix for the sidewalk before someone else gets hurt.
"I'm not asking them to do anything. I'm not asking them to pay my medical bills. That’s not why I was there. I was there to tell them to get it fixed before someone comes into town and bankrupts them," she said.
Town crews have made several temporary fixes in that area over the past several years, Matthews said, but adding too much asphalt near the storm drain would cause flooding on Main Street that could also flood businesses.
Because the street intersects Main Street, there has been some confusion over whether the problem should be left up to the town or N.C. Department of Transportation to be fixed.
NCDOT says it's the town's responsibility.
"Even though it's storm drainage and it's on state road, if it deals with sidewalks and handicapped ramps and things of that nature, that makes it a town issue," Matthews said.
Being a state owned street, Powell Bill grant money cannot be used toward repairs, meaning any fix will come out of the town's general budget.
But after getting advice from NCDOT engineers, the town has come up with a tentative plan that could fix the problem without breaking the bank.
In an attempt to make the area more user friendly, Matthews said the plan calls to make traffic shift to the left about one lane width. That would allow crews room to make a handicap crossing adjacent to the grate.
It would also give drivers coming off Mears Avenue more a better view of traffic and it would give those driving onto Mears Avenue more turning room.
The project would involve constructing concrete medians and would eliminate a few parking spaces on the left side of Main Street, but the parking lot adjacent to Mears Avenue would be untouched, Matthews said.
That plan must be submitted to NCDOT for approval before the town can begin work, though, he said.