Some of the hazards on San Diego sidewalks surveyors have found in recent months. It could amount to a $2-billion backlog. Photo credit: City of San Diego.

More than 39,000 sidewalk hazards were identified in a survey of San Diego walkways that is about half done, according to an update presented Wednesday to the City Council’s Infrastructure Committee.

City employees and college engineering students started mapping sidewalks in January, noting and photographing broken pavement, curbs that do not conform to the Americans With Disabilities Act and similar problems.

So far, about 3,100 miles of sidewalks have been surveyed, about half of city-maintained walkways, according to the report. The crews have concentrated on the city’s older neighborhoods.

The survey, along with assessments of parks and city-owned buildings, is aimed at giving Mayor Kevin Faulconer and the City Council an idea of how far behind the city is in catching up to the backlog of repairs. In dollar terms, estimates are thought to soar into the $2 billion range.

The hazards are defined as cracks or other problems where the pavement is offset at least a half-inch and could lead someone to trip and suffer an injury.

Tree roots are blamed for about 3,700 hazards, while more than 14,000 curb breaks do not conform to designs for accommodating people in wheelchairs, the report said. Some curbs were poured before the ADA was signed into law in 1992, and requirements have since evolved, said James Nagelvoort, the director of public works.

“As ADA has been implemented throughout the country, you have varying moments where they’ve changed the legislation, or because of court action or lawsuits, it’s changed the requirements,” Nagelvoort said. “I’d say that’s the majority of the story … that the day (the ramps) went in, those individuals thought that they were compliant, that they were meeting the requirements of the day, but the world has changed on them.”

Councilwoman Myrtle Cole said she has seen ramps on corners where there are no sidewalks.

Whenever a street with a crosswalk is trenched for water lines or other utilities, ADA regulations are triggered, and the law requires wheelchair ramps to be installed, Nagelvoort said. Public funds for water and wastewater projects, however, cannot be appropriated for building sidewalks that would connect to the new ramps, he said.

Committee members voted to hand the report to the full City Council.

The survey should be done in January and the final report issued in February.

– City News Service

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