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Update on Kansas City’s GO Bond sidewalk program

kcmo sidewalk.JPG
Posted at 9:10 AM, Oct 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-20 13:49:26-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When Maura Porter goes to work, the professional dog walker pays close attention to the sidewalks.

“Not twisting my ankle every five feet would be pretty great,” Porter said with a laugh.

Living in Kansas City, Missouri, Porter is pleased residents’ property tax dollars are helping fund a 20-year, $150 million sidewalk project. The project is a result of a voter-approved General Obligation (GO) Bond initiative in 2017.

Wednesday, the city’s Transportation, Infrastructure and Operations Committee will review plans to continue rolling out GO Bond funds for the project. Under review this time is $550,000 for sidewalk inspection and design, which is one of the three main priorities of the overall project.

Since 2017, the city has inspected roughly 750 centerline miles of sidewalk. Another 300 is currently under inspection, which leaves roughly 1,150 centerline miles to be inspected.

Another priority is repairing ramps and corners where sidewalks meet intersections. The city’s goal is to bring those areas into compliance with federal regulations from the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The third priority is to catch up on a backlog of 311 complaints about sidewalks from 2008 to 2016.

The backlog includes issues on 352 blocks. So far, the city has completed 270 blocks, about 77 percent of the backlog. 35 blocks are under construction or planned to be under construction shortly.

The city now estimates it will take until 2025 to complete the remaining 47 blocks, instead of a 2022 estimate it gave back in 2017.

A city spokesperson said in the time since the previous estimate, the city has completed more inspections of the areas in the backlog and discovered additional necessary repair work which has extended the timeline.

A 2019 audit criticized portions of the sidewalk project, but a city spokesperson explained a new checklist for all crew members has helped streamline the process and ensure work is done correctly.

This year, the city will begin exploring two pilot programs it hopes will save time and money on the project. One program calls for sawing off tripping hazards on sidewalks. The second program will use a kind of rubber-like sidewalk material to place around tree roots, which often crack concrete slabs.