City to approve sidewalk improvement plan, change expected in 2-5 years

KANSAS CITY - The ball is rolling to begin much-needed sidewalk repairs in Kansas City.

"We've been here about 25 years and the sidewalk has been in this condition ever since we've lived here," Theresa Textor said.

She showed 41 Action News the cracked, extremely uneven sidewalk in front of her home in Brookside, calling it “a really dangerous situation."

Lisa Quiroz, who lives off The Paseo, pointed to the same situation outside her home.

"The sidewalk issues have been a problem for years," Quiroz said.

Many homeowners say their repeated complaints fell on deaf ears.

"We can't take our granddaughter for a walk, we have to walk in the street," Theresa's husband, Bob Textor said. "So yeah, this is why people have a hard time maintaining their homes and staying in the inner city."

Change is on the way, in about two to five years.  Sidewalks are included in the projects the city hopes to take care of this year, after voters approved a $800 million GO Bond initiative to improve infrastructure.

Kansas City's Public Works Department presented its plan to the council's infrastructure committee Thursday afternoon to start inspecting all sidewalks and then make repairs.

"Those darker lines you see there are given higher points based on our data analysis," Public Works Spokesperson Beth Breitenstein said, showing us a map of the city's sidewalks.

This map will help city officials determine which areas of Kansas City are in the most need of sidewalk improvements. It's based on a point system. The more points an area has, or the darker it is on the map, the more urgent the need for repairs is.

The city came up with a points system, based on certain factors. The areas with the most points will be inspected first and fixed first.

Based on the map, the areas needing repairs the most are midtown, northeast, and the east side of the city.

Factors include:

  • Schools (8 points)
  • Median household income (3,5,8 points)
  • Transit stops (3,5,8 points)
  • Vehicle access (3,4,5 points)
  • Parks (5 points)
  • Grocery/markets (5 points)
  • Population density (1-5 points)
  • Arterial street (5 points)
  • Libraries (8 points)
  • Community centers (8 points)
  • Hospitals and safety net providers (8 points)
  • Employment density (1-3 points)
  • Transportation terminals (1 point)

"We want people to get to destinations, that's our goal," Breitenstein said.

Trees are at the root of many sidewalk issues. 

"We've been worried about the tree, the roots, because they're coming up and breaking the sidewalk more," Quiroz said.

Working with the Parks and Rec forester, the city will assess the trees before making any repairs.

The city will also fund construction in areas without sidewalks and curbs.  Those projects could receive half of its funding from other sources, such as the Public Improvements Advisory Committee, grants, adjacent property owners, or other council-approved government funding.

Sidewalk inspections will take place every ten years.

Sidewalks that are a part of other capital projects such as water main repair and building renovation will be funded by those projects.

The city plans to launch an interactive website so the public can track progress.

"We know the public felt the burden of having to pay for their own sidewalk improvements, and we're happy to be able to flip that around and really, systematically make this a more walkable city," Breteinstein said.

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