Repairs to make sidewalks wheelchair accesible

GREENFIELD — Sidewalks throughout the city are being repaired this summer in an effort to make them safe for pedestrians.

Each year, the Greenfield Street Department budgets $50,000 to replace dilapidated sidewalks in the city. So far this year, the department has spent about $20,000 and is continuing to look for sidewalks that need some TLC.

Repairs address areas that have been cracked over time, evening the sidewalks and make them safer for pedestrians. As the sidewalks are replaced, they also are restructured to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires sidewalks be wide enough for wheelchairs.

Though sidewalk repair is on the city’s to-do list every year, increased attention has been brought to the effort as city officials stress the need for streets, sidewalks and trails that are pedestrian-friendly and encourage residents to get out and enjoy the city.

The Hancock County Highway Department will do several small sidewalk repairs during the summer to make the sidewalks wheelchair-accessible, but no major projects are underway, highway engineer Gary Pool said.

The city has contracted Vail’s Concrete of Markleville to supply the materials and labor for the sidewalk projects.

Several stretches of sidewalk on Apple Street are scheduled to be repaired, and sidewalks throughout the Liberty Shores subdivision off Meridian Road have been replaced.

Sections of sidewalk on Waterview Boulevard, which is west of Apple Street, also have been replaced.

Street Commissioner Tyler Rankins said his staff will continue to address sidewalks throughout the summer until the money runs out.

His office receives a lot of requests from residents for sidewalk repair. Each year, employees assess the condition to decide whether the sidewalk needs to be addressed immediately or can wait.

Often, they’ll look for other sidewalks in the area that need to be repaired so they’re able to fix an entire section at once, he said.

The $50,000 for sidewalk repairs can go a long way, Rankins said.

A recent repair list approved by the Greenfield Board of Works and Public Safety comprising about $6,000 worth of work will fund the replacement of 10 sidewalk sections on Apple Street, he said.

Sidewalks that get replaced typically are in poor condition — some have tree roots growing under them or they have collapsed.

For sidewalks that are uneven, the city has a tool it uses to grind the sidewalk, which enables the street department to make it safer without having to completely replace it.

It’s a good alternative, Rankins said, because there’s never enough money to fix all the sidewalks that need to be replaced.

“Concrete is not a perfect material. Over time, it’s going to crack; it’s going to break; things are going to go wrong with it,” he said. “You can’t have enough money. That’s why we have to prioritize.”

Mayor Chuck Fewell was out with the street department Monday morning to assess sidewalks and streets throughout the city. He said it’s important the city maintain sidewalks in order to keep residents safe.

“It’s a priority,” he said. “If you have a sidewalk, and it is that aggressive in deterioration, then it’s dangerous. People can trip over it; people can injure themselves.”

Beyond repairing deteriorated sidewalks, installing new sidewalks where none exist would be beneficial, Fewell said.

But officials have to be judicious as to how they spend money set aside for those type of projects to make sure the sidewalks in the most dire need of repair are addressed first.

“We’re no different than anybody else,” he said. “We’re trying to find the best place to spend the money.”

Sidewalk trouble?

To report a sidewalk that needs to be repaired, call the Greenfield Street Department at 317-477-4380.

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Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or squinn@greenfieldreporter.com.