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Stretching Voter Dollars to Make Safe Sidewalks

Thanks to a cost-sharing partnership between the family-owned Mar-San Properties and SDOT, there’s beautiful new sidewalk in the heart of the Morgan Street Junction on California Avenue SW between Fauntleroy Avenue SW and Beverage Place SW.

The sidewalk at this location, which had been uplifted by SDOT street trees needing more growing room, had been repeatedly patched to maintain accessibility for pedestrians.  When the owners of the building remodeled to bring in a new business last year, they sought help from SDOT to repair the sidewalk in order to help revitalize the business area and make sidewalks safer for their customers and the community.  However, the Sidewalk Safety Repair Program had already committed funding to rebuild the sidewalk a block to the north adjacent to the new Morgan Junction Park, as well as other area spot repairs, so funding had not been planned for this block.  SDOT added this sidewalk to the “needs list” and found it rated very high.

This is a before and after photo. In the foreground the new sidewalk and enlarged tree pit are visible; the background shows the remaining buckled sidewalk which was also replaced.

SDOT Pavement Management estimates there are well over 7 million square feet of sidewalk that need fixing throughout Seattle.  With funding guaranteed through Bridging the Gap only through 2015, repairs are prioritized to serve as many people as possible and as efficiently and cost effectively as possible.  Project selection criteria include locations that are in an urban village, on a bus route, and adjacent to or providing access to city facilities such as city offices or parks.  In addition, SDOT tries to address sidewalks with a history of “trip and falls” or where other work is planned nearby that can be easily extended or “batched” together to reduce construction costs.  The program’s resources can be leveraged through sharing the cost of repairs with businesses, property owners, or other city funding.   Although these partnerships extend the ability to make more repairs, there currently isn’t a formal program available to the general public.  For now, Seattle property owners continue to be responsible for repairing sidewalks adjacent to their property, except where damage is caused by the city or a city street tree.

The sidewalk repairs recently completed by SDOT on this block of California Avenue SW resulted in a combination of winning achievements.  By sharing the cost of the sidewalk, rather than just making repairs around the tree base which the BTG funding would cover, the property owners and SDOT were able to expand the scope of the work to repair the entire sidewalk length of the block from curb to the building, preserving street trees and giving them a better growing space for years to come.  Since 2007, the BTG funded Sidewalk Safety Repair Program has repaired 152,850 square feet of sidewalks or the equivalent of 76.425 blocks!

Got a sidewalk question or concern? Report concerns online using the SMORF (Street Maintenance on line Request Form) or contact the Sidewalk Safety Program Coordinator, Liz Ellis, at 206-233-2768 or

Ace SDOT concrete crew members, left to right, Roman Mulipoli, Jimmy Valencia and Dan Tunu, prepare to form the sidewalk around a tree where the roots had earlier been pruned by SDOT’s Urban Forestry tree crew.