Friday, March 31, 2006

Sidewalk Stories

Sidewalk Stories

After a nearly three-year wait, yesterday part of our sidewalk was replaced free of charge!

Legally, sidewalks are the responsibility of the property owner. But most people know the City of St. Louis offers a 50/50 Sidewalk Program in which the City contracts with an outside construction company (usually these days, Stika Brothers Concrete Contractors of 10703 Tesshire Dr. in the Concord Village/Affton area).

Stika rebuilds the sidewalks under an annual contract let by the City Board of Public Service (BPS). The City Streets Department, Sidewalk Manager Wally Hose sends bills to property owners for 50% of the cost.

But less well-known is that, if a tree owned and maintained by the City Forestry Division damages a section of sidewalk, then the replacement is still handled by Wally Hose via Stika, but is free of charge to the property owner.

So, it takes a long time to work through the process, but once the work gets going, it's pretty quick. They seem to have a schedule of working through certain areas of the city at a time. Last year, they redid many of the sidewalks on my father-in-law's property, even including a new curb-cut at the corner and new concrete for his driveway apron between the sidewalk and street.

Probably in May 2003 (right after we bought the place), I called my alderman to sign up for the replacement of just two squares uplifted by the roots of the city-owned tree out front.

In fall 2005, we got a letter from the Street Department, after a Forestry inspector came out and noted that, yes indeed, the tree's roots lifted up two squares of the sidewalk several inches over the years.

Then, last Friday (March 24th), the old walk was removed and a number of shallow roots too. On Tuesday or Wednesday, new forms were placed which make a "tree well" that narrows the sidewalk a little on one side, which (hopefully) will give the tree enough room to spread out.

Yesterday (March 30th) about 8:30 AM, the new concrete was poured. Once the work gets going, they're really fast! Stika gets the actual concrete from a mixer truck owned by Lemay Concrete Block Co. - which despite the name, is actually located at 7900 Reilly Ave in the City.

Soon after the pouring and floating of the new 'crete, it starting raining, so they placed plastic on top to protect it. After the rain, the Stika crew came back to make the swirly patterns on it and draw a little line to make the single pour look like it was two separate squares.

By noon, the new walk was pretty much dry. Unfortunately, I didn't guard it like I should have, so it did get a few footprints and a bicycle track on it!


So after waiting three years for this, it's slightly messed up. That's not the fault of the city nor the contractor, of course. Well, at least I didn't have to pay for it.

And at least nobody tried to write their names in it either.


Jim said...

by what logic would you own the sidewalk and the city would own the tree next to it? is the sidewalk and/or tree on your property?

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