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KCMO launches pilot programs for sidewalk repairs

kcmo rubber sidewalk.JPG
Posted at 8:42 AM, Nov 03, 2021

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Over the next year, Kansas City, Missouri, will study the effectiveness of three pilot programs designed to repair sidewalks.

Since voters approved a property tax increase to fund a General Obligation bond (GO Bond), the city has initiated a 20-year, $150 million project to repair, redesign, replace and add sidewalks.

The pilot programs will help the city ensure it completes the project in as responsible a way as possible.

“We know that sidewalks around the city, in all neighborhoods, are a top priority for residents,” explained KCMO Media Relations Manager Maggie Green. “We want to learn what materials, what repair techniques can maybe help save us money, are faster to repair, can repair around tree roots.”

The first pilot program involves a rubber sidewalk near East 41st Street and Kenwood Avenue.

Made of 100 percent recycled tires, the city is testing the rubber material around tree roots, which often cause concrete to crack.

Over the next year, the city - along with partners at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering, Gunter Construction and Rubberway - will study how the material (which is similar to a running track) holds up in the snow, ice, rain and to heavy foot traffic.

Green said the rubber material costs slightly more than traditional concrete but could save the city from having to cut down trees to eliminate problematic roots, which can cost up to $7,000 per tree.

“It’s very porous so it’s really going to help with stormwater runoff and absorption of the water. It’s flexible, so we don’t really think it’s going to crack with freeze-thaw like normal concrete would,” Green pointed out.

In the second project, an outside company removed tripping hazards where concrete slabs had become uneven.

In a matter of weeks, Precision Concrete Cutting Midwest eliminated 500 hazards in the Waldo area near East 73rd and Cherry streets.

“Now it’s smooth, you can ride a stroller down it, use a wheelchair down it,” Green said. “The beauty of that pilot project was it was relatively inexpensive and happened very quickly.”

Finally, UMKC students are testing a kind of concrete mixed with fiberglass they developed. It is on the same block as the rubber sidewalk.

“We’re very excited about this pilot. I think it speaks to the innovations coming out of the public works department,” Green said.

Over the next year, the city will evaluate its options and decide how to move forward long-term.