Brittney Burns – Staff Writer

The town of Franklin has 65,379.12 feet or 12.38 miles of sidewalk. Maintaining those sidewalks is a monumental task, from keeping the leaves blown, the grass cut, and repairing cracks and other problems, the town’s public works department evaluates the sidewalks and works to keep them clean and safe for residents.

To help in that mission, members of the town’s public works department is spending the week working alongside the North Carolina Department of Transportation to better train in repairing the sidewalks to save the town time and money.

“This week, the NCDOT is going to be working at various sites around the east Franklin area,” said Town Manager Summer Woodard. “Our employees will be onsite to learn techniques from them. The number of employees will be decided by Jay Gibson, Public Works director.”

The town currently repairs portions of sidewalks as needed. However, it is sometimes more cost effective to contract the project out if the project is on a larger scale that could take weeks to complete. The training town employees are receiving this week, will help make possible a greater number of projects that can be undertaken by the town’s crew.

“We have 12 public works employees, not including the water and sewer plants,” said Woodard. “Different employees have different specialties. We have four utilities mechanics, three equipment operators, one pump mechanic, two who take care of our streets and mowing, a utility crew leader, and the Public Works director. Despite having expertise in a variety of specialties, since it is a small department, the employees usually tend to any situation that arises. The crews cut grass, repair sidewalks, keep the streets clear of debris, work on line breaks, unclog lines, monitor and work on pump stations. The public may not realize how much work the crews do beyond the city limits. We have water and sewer lines in different parts of the county that they have to tend to as well. They are also on-call so if there is a line break or another emergency situation in the middle of the night they are called in to fix it. If it snows, they come in and push snow. We also have employees who run the street sweeper at night.”

The town of Franklin is also moving forward with plans to prioritize town sidewalks in terms of need and develop a repair plan. At the town board retreat, Woodard asked the board to task the streets and sidewalk committee with evaluating town sidewalks and developing a list of priority.

“The Street and Sidewalk Committee are looking to meet this week,” said Woodard. “The first step will be to look at sidewalk areas on the Bike and Pedestrian Study and develop a Comprehensive Improvements Plans for Town sidewalks.”