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In an effort to ensure that all residents and visitors can safely navigate the city’s neighborhoods, Chelsea is planning to add thirteen ADA-compliant crosswalks to the Belser Estates subdivision. While the later phase of the development included crosswalks, the original phase was built in the 1980s, predating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and resulting in the gap in accessibility.

The city is applying for a grant through the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) offered jointly by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the Southeastern Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG). This specific initiative aims to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety by creating safe routes to school and to the Border-to-Border Trail. 

To be considered for the grant, the city must commit to covering about 25% of the project costs, which is approximately $41,000. The city must also be prepared to cover costs related to surveying and inspection services, which are not covered by the grant and are estimated to be around $30,000.

At the June 3 city council meeting, Superintendent Jason Freeman presented a request for a resolution supporting this financial commitment while assuring the council that the funds for the project are already earmarked in the 2024-2025 budget.  The council then voted unanimously to approve the motion, highlighting the importance of accessible communities.

According to a statement included in the grant application, one Belser Estates resident said, “There are currently disabled residents within Belser Estates, of varying ages. Our neighborhood—especially given its proximity to Beach Middle School and along Freer Rd.—should have accessible connections. I think it is important to understand that any of us could wake up tomorrow requiring ADA accessibility, and by not having that infrastructure in place, we are already excluding that portion of the population.”

The city’s proposal now awaits a funding decision, which SEMCOG is set to announce in November. As Chelsea continues to grow and evolve, projects like this one ensure that it remains a welcoming and inclusive community for everyone. Here’s to hoping the grant comes through, making Chelsea an even better place to live.

Aerial view of the Belser Estates neighborhood in Chelsea, MI. Photo courtesy Google Maps.

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