The sidewalk system is a vital component of the city’s infrastructure and plays an essential role in city life. As conduits for pedestrian movement and access, they enhance connectivity and promote walking. As public spaces, they activate streets socially and economically. Safe, accessible, and well-maintained sidewalks are fundamental to mobility and healthy communities.
Over time concrete sidewalks have a tendency to shift and settle creating offsets between concrete panels. In addition, as trees grow and mature, site conditions can result in tree roots raising the sidewalk, curb, gutter, and pavement area. While the Alameda Municipal Code (AMC) identifies the adjacent property owner as being responsible for maintaining the sidewalk, curb, gutter, and driveway approaches, the City’s long standing practice is to repair sidewalk damaged by street trees, all other repairs are the responsibility of the property owner.
How does the City fund sidewalk repair work?
In this two year capital budget, 2019-2021, funding for sidewalk repair comes from three sources: Improvement Tax and Measure B/BB Local Streets and Roads. In 2000, nearly 82 percent of Alameda County voters approved Measure B, the half-cent transportation sales tax. The Alameda County Transportation Commission administers Measure B funds to deliver essential transportation improvements and services. Regional priorities are to:
- Expand mass transit.
- Improve highway infrastructure.
- Improve local streets and roads.
- Improve bicycle and pedestrian safety.
- Expand special transportation for seniors and people with disabilities.
The City of Alameda receives Measure B direct local distributions to meet these regional priorities. Some of the local distribution received goes towards sidewalk repair. In 2014, Alameda County voters approved Measure BB, authorizing an extension and augmentation of the existing transportation sale tax.
What type of sidewalk repairs are there?
To optimize the use of available funding, the City uses concrete cutting, a technology where vertical offset sidewalks are cut instead of a complete removal and replacement, when possible. Concrete cutting allows us to make the most use out of the existing concrete, which is better for the environment, and allows for a cost effective repair that has a reliable standard of quality and is accurately sloped to meet Americans with Disability Act (ADA) standards. Although the cause of the uplift—differential settlement or tree roots—is not addressed with concrete cutting, it removes the tripping hazard and extends the time before the remove and replace work must be done. For trip hazards caused by City trees that cannot be cut, the City removes and replaces the concrete sidewalk. Depending on site specific circumstances, the tree may or may not require removal.
Where is the repair work this year?
50% of available sidewalk funding in this two year budget were used to have Precision Concrete Cutting saw cut trip hazards focused in Zones 4 and 5.
3,384 trip hazards were cut in Zone 4 and 2,727 trip hazards were cut in Zone 5. The Base Reuse Fund separately funds trip hazard removal at Alameda Point. During this two year capital budget, 826 trip hazards were removed with concrete cutting. Subsequent fiscal years will focus available resources in a different sidewalk zone, such that going forward each zone is visited once every five years.
The remaining 50% of funds are currently being use to have Rosas Brothers Construction remove and replace sidewalk disrepair caused by street trees in Zone 4 and Zone 5. Subsequent fiscal years will focus available resources in a different sidewalk zone, such that going forward each zone is visited once every five years.
How are City staff involved with sidewalk repair?
Public Works’ maintenance division focus their efforts in the Zones where capital dollars for remove and replace and concrete cutting are not being spent in any given year. City administrative staff send out notifications to property owners letting them know of their responsibility to make sidewalk repairs not caused by a street tree.