Street repairs sidelined for other city maintenance

Kelly Pickerel

Sidewalk work around town scheduled to finish by Nov. 28

Those X’s on the ground aren’t paths to buried treasure. Instead, the city is repairing nine streets’ sidewalks during the next few weeks.

Pat Homan, city engineering technician, said the process is moving along quickly, with the construction company only spending two to three days on each street.

“If we’re doing curb and drive aprons, then it might take three or four days to do a street,” he said. “For the most part, these guys are moving quickly.”

As long as weather cooperates, Homan said the city should complete the project ahead of the Nov. 28 deadline.

“The big thing with concrete is weather,” he said. “Rain impedes the process, but I see them done ahead of (Nov. 28).”

Determining which sidewalks receive repairs is a long process, Homan said, but the largest contributor is in association with the Annual Street Program, which deals with street paving.

“If I know I’m going to pave (a street) next year, I will go out and get the concrete done this year,” he said.

Derek Behm, junior architecture major who lives on Vine Street, one of the streets receiving sidewalk repair, said he didn’t realize the street’s sidewalks were a problem.

“The sidewalks don’t need it as much as our street does,” he said.

Homan said while most streets are in need of some work, sidewalk repairs are done ahead of street repaving because the sidewalks involve curb work, so it is possible that Vine Street may be repaved next year.

Other contributing factors as to which sidewalks need improvements are Americans with Disabilities Act standards and city tree damage.

ADA standards require sidewalks to be accessible for wheelchairs by making curb cuts and pedestrian ramps where needed.

As for tree roots damaging walkways, Homan said the city tries to work around the problem.

“It’s not our intent to remove trees unless they’re old and decrepit,” he said. “Our philosophy is to leave a healthy tree where it is. Ninety-eight percent of the time, we make an attempt to save the tree. Sometimes we raise the sidewalks around them.”

Homan says citizen complaints have been minimal, and complaints don’t necessarily speed up the process.

“If we had three complaints on the street, I would get in there if I had the funding to do it,” he said. “We keep a list and we attempt to get to all the complaints as fast as I can. But if I have the funding, I will attempt to get to the areas.”

This year, the City Engineering Division budgeted $100,000 for sidewalk repairs. Homan said that is usually the funding allotted each year.

According to Kent City Manager Dave Ruller’s weekly blog, a foot-long section of concrete costs nearly $25. With this year’s budget, the city can only repair three-quarters of a mile of sidewalk. That’s why even though nine streets are receiving repairs, very few get a full makeover. Most are just receiving portions of repair, like Jessie and Woodard avenues.

Behm said only a few squares have been marked on Vine Street.

“I think they should commit,” he said. “What happens when the one next to (the repaired sidewalk) cracks?”

Homan said if there was a way to receive more funding, more streets could be fully reworked.

“We’re always looking for more funding,” he said.

Contact public affairs reporter Kelly Pickerel at [email protected].