• Posted On: June 23, 2015

How to Use Public Works Dollars and Personnel in the Most Effective Way

As a city manager you know that cracked and uneven sidewalks pose not only a physical danger, but a liability risk as well. It’s important to keep public walkways in safe condition, free of any trip hazards and in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act. How to do all that and live within a tight city public works budget may seem impossible.

It’s true that cities may ask property owners to share responsibility for these spaces, but as the ones who possess authority over easements several court decisions have held cities responsible for providing and maintaining the public sidewalks. The legal precedent is there to hold you ultimately responsible for any injury which occurs on public paths.

All of which means that cities are not safe from legal action when a person trips and falls or has difficulty maneuvering on the sidewalk. Los Angeles, California regularly spends around $4 million per year to settle such cases. In another instance, New York City once spent $60 million in a single year to cover trip hazard court filings.

Safe sidewalks aren’t only about pedestrian safety, though. It also comes into consideration under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Since nearly one quarter (20 percent) of U.S. citizens have a disability, this poses a pressing issue. There are many people living in your jurisdiction who need accommodation.

Some trip hazards can be remedied with relatively minor effort. Grinding can accomplish changes of one inch or less. Saw cutting on the concrete can resolve problems of one inch to two and a half inches. Concrete or asphalt patches can quickly deal with a trip risk situation, but the patches will not provide a permanent remedy. Temperature changes will likely lead to cracks and seam exposures. In some instances, the best thing to do is remove and replace entire sections of the sidewalk.

The real issue for you isn’t whether or not you should repair or even how to make the repair. It’s often more a question of how you can keep up with the myriad of demands on the public works personnel while living inside your budget. Hiring more people isn’t always possible, nor is it always the best way to approach the problem.

At Comcate, we understand how demands can exceed resources. That’s why we’ve created software programs specifically for local government concerns. Our software delivers automated processing that will improve your department efficiency. Read the testimonials on our site from civic leaders just like you who’ve proven how the right software tool can make a real difference. We’re convinced that we can help you provide better sidewalks on a strict budget. Contact us and let us convince you.

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