Public works employees walked through all 368 miles of city sidewalks taking notes on the damages, and then spent $7.5 million and countless hours fixing them.
“It’s really important (the sidewalks) are safe for the kids, when they go out trick-or-treating, or for folks…who don’t have great mobility,” said Public Works Director Bonnie Teaford at a celebratory event for the project during National Public Works Week.
PHOTOS: Students visit Public Works Department in honor of Public Works Week
Officials split the city up into 10 sections, and year after year tackled the repairs for each section.
“It’s a system that covers the whole city,” said Adam Salehi, the city’s principal civil engineer. “I’m happy because I get calls from people who say they wouldn’t think their sidewalk would get fixed because they live on a little residential side street.”
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While concrete is designed to last hundreds of years, stubborn tree roots can cause sidewalk upheavals and cut the life span of a sidewalk to just three years, Teaford said. So officials have already begun sidewalk repairs for the next 10-year cycle.
But costs are turning out to be lower the second time around. During the first cycle, repairs on the first section cost $600,000. This time, the costs for repairs dropped to $300,000, even amid higher construction costs, Teaford said.
Meanwhile, the city’s annual costs to settle trip-and-fall claims on sidewalks by pedestrians have dropped over the last decade from roughly $350,000 in fiscal year 2004-2005 to almost nothing in recent years, Teaford said.
“Our trend line has gone down,” Teaford said.
As the city celebrates Public Works Week, Teaford was named by the American Public Works Assn. one of this year’s top 10 public works leaders of the year, chosen from a pool of public works professionals across the United States and Canada.
“It’s a humbling honor,” she said.
Teaford manages and directs 185 full-time employees, a $60 million annual operating budget, as well as a capital improvement budget ranging from $15 million to nearly $60 million.
City officials will present her with the award at a Public Works Week celebration on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. at Stough Park.