BROOKSVILLE — Soon it will be easier and safer to get around a portion of Spring Hill on foot.
On Tuesday, the Hernando County Commission will consider awarding a $280,000 contract to Florida Safety Contractors to build a 5-foot-wide sidewalk on the west side of Waterfall Drive from County Line Road to Spring Hill Drive.
Work could begin soon, officials said.
The sidewalk, which will be paid for by the Florida Department of Transportation, is the latest in a series of new sidewalks countywide that are designed to provide a network of connected walkways.
The county is limited in the number of sidewalks it can build each year by a special category of state funding, said Brian Malmberg, assistant county administrator for operations.
Another project soon to be funded through that same program will be another 5-foot-wide sidewalk planned on Linden Drive from Mariner Boulevard to Coronado Drive.
Design work is also planned for a sidewalk on Dr. M.L. King Jr. Boulevard from Main Street to Broad Street in Brooksville, slated to be built in fiscal year 2014-15.
Projects are prioritized only after plenty of input, said Dennis Dix, the county's transportation coordinator.
Technical, bicycle and citizens advisory committees talk about the projects and set lists of top picks. School district officials are part of that discussion.
Then staff planners for the county's Metropolitan Planning Organization whittle the lists to present as priorities for their board.
"It's thorough. It's involved. But it is purposeful because it involves broad-based input,'' Dix said.
Various criteria are applied, including proximity to schools and transit, and efforts are made to complete networks of sidewalks through neighborhoods, he said.
The Waterfall Drive project, he said, "that's a major network connection.''
While the sidewalk funding is limited, Dix said the county might be able to soon tap another source of outside funding to build more sidewalks.
Last month, the Metropolitan Planning Organization approved moving forward with an Americans with Disabilities Act transition plan as it prepares to put benches at some of its fixed-route bus stops. Once those locations are determined, the county can receive federal transit dollars to build sidewalks to the bus stops, Dix said.
That report is expected to be finished in December.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.