Marty Harris doesn’t want anybody to take a bad trip along the 200 block of North Maple Avenue.
The tree-lined block just north of Center Street is riddled with uplifted and buckled sidewalks including a half dozen spots of an inch or more that have been patched with asphalt.
Harris brought his concerns to the Manteca City Council during their special meeting on Tuesday. While city staff indicated they would take a look at it, Harris’ concerns are shared by others that believe the city is being far from pro-active in addressing tripping hazards in sidewalks in the City of Manteca right-of-way.
Manteca since 2008 has let sidewalk maintenance go to the wayside except on a complaint basis and then they make major repairs — taking out sidewalks and trees and replacing them — only in the most egregious situations. Crews either grind down minor raises or apply asphalt as a stop gap measure as they have along the 200 block of Maple Avenue and other locations throughout Manteca.
The sidewalk maintenance situation went south in 2008 when more than half of the streets division’s 16 positions were eliminated during budget cuts due to the Great Recession. That included four workers who were dedicated to addressing sidewalk, curb and gutter issues.
The lack of a dedicated concrete crew in the streets divisions has forced Manteca in recent years to use the remaining street workers when they have the time to address the most egregious sidewalk issues in high traffic areas such as they did in 2018 with trees in sidewalk wells along North Main Street and Alameda Street on the northeast corner of that intersection. The trees had severely buckled the sidewalks at that location requiring some trees to be removed and sidewalk replaced.
In late 2017, the city assigned safety issues with existing sidewalks and paved paths to an employee in the Human Resources and Risk Management Department. The staffer is focusing attention on American with Disabilities Act compliance primarily with existing city sidewalks and stretches of developed areas that lack sidewalks. The department head at the time — Joe Kriskovich — told the City Council could take two to three years to shift through the data compiled by an Americans with Disabilities Act consultant who walked the entire city to collect measurements to determine if slopes and sidewalk widths were adequate as well as cataloguing tripping hazards, and locations of missing segments. Once that is done, the city will prioritize where work needs to be done and then try to secure money to don the work either from the general fund or other sources.
Now the city is getting ready to pay $125,000 for a tree survey to identify where trees are uplifting sidewalks as well as trees that are unhealthy to help establish the sidewalk work priority list.
The council at least three times in the past 17 years has tried to tackle the issue of missing sidewalks. Money has been budgeted but when the city was unable to get around to the work, the funds where put toward other projects in subsequent budgets.
In one case, the long-promised sidewalk on Cottage Avenue where it is missing south of Yosemite Avenue and north of Pine Street was funded but then that money was shifted to put in place sidewalks along Commerce Court’s northern side when the Social Security office was relocated. The decision meant anyone traveling to the Social Security office on foot or in a wheelchair would not have to travel in the street.
Money for the Cottage Avenue work was never budgeted in subsequent years.
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