The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 09/01/04

Who should be responsible for sidewalk repair? Atlanta’s sidewalks are falling apart, and it could be your fault.

The problem is that too many people don’t know this, so too many sidewalks are falling apart, said Pamela Wilson, spokeswoman for the Department of Public Works.

So if the sidewalk in front of your house is crumbling, it’s your responsibility to notify the city, get a permit and repair it.

To emphasize the point, the city is holding a “Walk for Sidewalks” at 10 a.m. Sept. 10 in Midtown. The route has yet to be determined, but the walk will end at Piedmont Park.

“There are a lot of sidewalks that are not in good condition, but people are not aware it’s their responsibility,” Wilson said.

About a month ago, the city started dispatching inspectors to eyeball sidewalks all over Atlanta. They are starting with the major pedestrian corridors but will soon come to a sidewalk near you. The inspectors will determine if repairs are required and, if so, notify property owners.

For now, people will get a friendly reminder. But if repairs aren’t made in good time, the city will make the repairs and bill the property owner, said Wilson.

A survey of a handful of contractors indicated their charges range from $2 to $10 per square foot. The city said it would charge $2.75 per square foot, with an additional $85 an hour in labor costs.

Wilson said there have been numerous instances in which people call the city to report a broken sidewalk, only to learn it’s their job to fix it.

The campaign to fix up sidewalks underscores Mayor Shirley Franklin’s call that Atlanta be a more “walkable” city.

“Like we did with the Pothole Posse, city government is committed to making this a safe city for pedestrians,” Franklin said in a written statement. “We are creating a walkable city for a casual stroll for senior citizens to children’s daily walks to school.”

Participating in the “Walk for Sidewalks” will be students, persons with disabilities, business people, pedestrian groups and crossing guards.

The city has even created a mascot for the campaign – a person dressed as a walking slab of sidewalk, replete with yellow hard hat and orange safety vest.

To report a problem sidewalk, call the transportation department at 404-330-6501.

Pushing people to repair their sidewalks helps the entire community, said Dianne Olansky, spokeswoman for the Atlanta-based Pedestrians Educating Drivers on Safety.

“When you’re out on foot, you get to meet your neighbors. . . . You notice things that are amiss in your neighborhood,” said Olansky, whose group will participate in the walk. Besides, she said, “It’s not safe to walk in the street.”

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VHCA Sidewalk Reimbursement Policy (2004, for historic reference only, no longer valid)

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