Percentage of Existing Sidewalks that are Functionally Acceptable
The Public Works Department (PWD) is responsible for approximately 2,800 miles of existing sidewalks across the City. The Sidewalk Master Plan / ADA Transition Plan Update (2016) sets standards for this system, including its assessment, repair, and vegetation clearance. These standards are based on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); a sidewalk is considered “Functionally Acceptable” if it can be used by almost all users. Sidewalk assessments are conducted using on-site visual inspection and measurement.
PWD efforts currently focus on sidewalks rated as “high” and “very high” priority in the sidewalk plan. These are sidewalks that are located near areas of high pedestrian activity, such as schools, parks, grocery stores, and transit stops. Equity based factors including proximity to affordable housing, median income and pedestrian health and safety needs, including local population health, are also significant factors in identifying high priority sidewalks.
The Department’s ability to rehabilitate sidewalks is determined by available funding. Sidewalks have an estimated life of 75 years, which means that the city should anticipate the need to replace one seventy fifth of the network, approximately 37 miles each year. Based on current construction costs that would require an annual budget of $30 million. The Department currently has about $16 million per year dedicated solely to sidewalk rehabilitation, coming from a combination of bond and operational budget funding.
Sidewalks are a critical part of the City's transportation system. They allow people to safely walk to and from schools, bus stops, and other locations. The combination of sidewalks and public transit allows those who cannot drive or do not have access to a car get where they want and need to go. The Public Works Department continues to build new sidewalks to complete the network envisioned in the 2016 Sidewalk Plan.
The Public Works Department built or rehabilitated approximately 35 miles of sidewalk in FY2022; In the last 5 years the annual amount of sidewalk work being completed has doubled and a more proactive approach to vegetation maintenance has been implemented. The result has been a significant improvement in the overall condition of the network.
A complete assessment of all sidewalks was completed in 2022 and a program to assess 10% of the network each year has been established. As of 2022 a new calculation methodology was adopted and previous years data has been corrected using the new method and through interpolation from the results of the citywide assessment.
As part of the 2016 Sidewalk Plan, the City conducted a pilot assessment of sidewalk conditions using a weighted, randomized sample of sidewalk segments from all ten City Council districts and four roadway classifications (major arterial, minor arterial, collector, and local). This pilot assessment found that about 16% of sidewalks in the sample were functionally acceptable (based on updated 2022 calculation method). The pilot assessment was designed using well-distributed sampling methods that would allow this review to estimate sidewalks conditions throughout the city. This data is used as the baseline for this measure.
Additional Measure Insights
Federal law - specifically the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) - is a significant factor in the development and execution of the Sidewalk Plan. The ADA requires all public sidewalks to be free of accessibility barriers. The ADA also requires cities to maintain an ADA Transition Plan, which includes documenting accessibility barriers and scheduling their repair. Because of the significant amount of noncompliance (90% ADA non-compliant based on 2016 Sidewalk Plan), the City is focusing available funding on functionally deficient sidewalks first. Functionally deficient sidewalks represent higher levels of ADA noncompliance and present access barriers for all users, even those without disabilities. After the City has reached a functionally acceptable condition, full ADA compliance will be the next goal. The functional condition provided in this performance measure will provide an updated assessment of the state of the sidewalk network to evaluate how the City is progressing on this federal mandate.
Measure Details and Definition
1) Definition: This measure shows the portion of assessed sidewalks that are considered "functionally acceptable."
2) Calculation method: Percent Functionally Acceptable is calculated by dividing the total feet of sidewalk meeting Functionally Acceptable standards by the total feet of sidewalk inspected.
3) Data Collection Process: Sidewalks are assessed using on-sight inspection and measurement of existing segment.
4) Measure Target Calculation: The measure target is based on ADA compliance requirements.
5) Frequency Measure is Reported: Annually (Fiscal Year)
Date page was last updated: February 2023