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Sidewalk Repair Program

For interpreter services, please call
206-684-ROAD (7623)

 

Overview

Seattle has over 2,000 miles of sidewalks and pathways worth about $1.5 billion*.

About 72% of the blocks in the City have sidewalks. That leaves roughly 950 miles of streets with no adjacent sidewalks. 

Most of the existing sidewalks in the City were built when the parcels were first subdivided or developed by the original land developers.  Currently, new sidewalks are built when required by the land use code for new private development projects. SDOT’s Pedestrian Program also installs new sidewalks. 

The Sidewalk Repair Program oversees the maintenance of the City's sidewalks and curbs.  The program’s goal is to ensure that all sidewalks are safe and accessible for all pedestrians.


*$1.5 billion is the “replacement cost” of the sidewalk system. In other words, it would cost about $1.5 billion if we had to rebuild all of the sidewalks in Seattle.

Maintaining Sidewalks in Seattle

Seattle law requires adjacent property owners to maintain and clean sidewalks. 

As in many other cities, the Seattle Municipal Code requires that adjacent property owners keep their sidewalks in good repair and safe for public travel.  This means keeping the sidewalk clear from vegetation overgrowth, snow and ice accumulation, as well as making repairs to the sidewalks when damaged. Additional information for adjacent property owners can be found here.

Prior to repairing the sidewalk, the property owner or the contractor must obtain a Street Use Permit.  This ensures the walkway meets the City's standards.  If a tree is causing the damage, an SDOT Arborist will arrange to meet on site to evaluate the tree for root pruning potential in conjunction with the Street Use Permit. 

However, if the sidewalk damage is being caused by City infrastructure such as a City-owned tree or sewer line, the City will take the responsibility for making the repairs. 

The Sidewalk Repair Program ensures safe and accessible sidewalks by:

  • Investigating complaints of unsafe or inaccessible sidewalks
  • Implementing temporary measures as needed (these include painting the sidewalks to provide warning notice, placing asphalt shims, beveling sidewalk uplifts, or closing sidewalks if needed).
  • Determining repair responsibility (adjacent property owner, City, or other utility)
  • Permanently repairing sidewalks when it is determined to be the City’s responsibility

How Does SDOT Prioritize Sidewalk Repair Locations?

In order for a damaged sidewalk to be considered for repair by the SDOT sidewalk repair program it must:

  • Be adjacent to City-owned property, or
  • City owned trees must be causing the damage. 

Damage caused by other City agencies or public utilities is forwarded on to the appropriate agency for repair.

If the location meets the above criteria, then repair locations for the Sidewalk Repair Program are selected based on the following criteria:

  1. Leveraging opportunities with other capital projects

  2. Within an urban village

  3. Adjacent to an arterial street

  4. High Priority Project Areas as identified in the Pedestrian Master Plan

  5. Within three blocks of a community or healthcare facility such as a school, park, library, clinic, hospital, or senior housing

  6. On a block with a transit stop

  7. Geographic and social justice distribution

  8. Constructability and cost

The criteria above are intended to ensure that the repairs will benefit a significant number of pedestrians, and the greatest number of users. The more of the criteria a specific location meets, the more likely the location is to be prioritized for repair. However, the City has a significant backlog of locations and SDOT is unable to repair many of the identified locations that meet all the criteria.

2014 Projects

Following are selected projects in 2014.

Funding

Funding the Sidewalk Repair Program

The Bridging the Gap (BTG) tax levy approved by voters in 2006 increased funding for pedestrian safety and created the Sidewalk Repair Program.  Since the beginning of the Bridging the Gap levy, the Sidewalk Repair Program has had an average funding level of just under $2 million per year.  The Bridging the Gap levy is set to expire at the end of 2015.

Maintaining Street Trees

Typically Street trees planted by the City are either maintained by Urban Forestry crews from SDOT or the Parks Dept., and street trees planted by citizens with or without a street tree permit are the responsibility of the abutting property owner to maintain to City standards.

If you would like to find out if a tree is owned by SDOT, SDOT Urban Forestry maintains a Seattle Tree Inventory with information about the trees along our city streets. To confirm the ownership of a particular tree, please contact SDOT Urban Forestry

Street Tree Planting, Pruning, and Removal require a permit from SDOT Urban Forestry.  City standards require street trees in the rights-of-way to be pruned 8 feet above sidewalks and 14 feet above the street at the curb.

Additional Information

Contact Us

Report Sidewalk Questions/Concerns Online
With the Street Maintenance on line Request Form (SMORF)

Contact Sidewalk Repair Program Project Manager Liz Ellis
Liz.ellis@seattle.gov 
206/233-2768

 

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