Sidewalk Condition Assessment Project

Sidewalk condition issues: 60% Uplifts, 25% surface condition, 13% obstruction, 2% cross slope

SDOT received $400,000 to perform a Sidewalk Condition Assessment in 2017. 

In a span of three months, our 14 college interns walked 2,323 miles of sidewalks.  They found over 92,000 uplifts, 38,000 surface conditions, 20,000 obstructions, and 3,600 isolated cross slope issues.  In addition, they updated our existing sidewalk inventory, of over 34,000 block faces, with current field conditions and added cross slope information.  We will use this information to develop condition scoring, prioritize repairs, and engage with abutting property owners on responsibility.

Project Schedule

  • January 2017: Project planning, design, testing, and implementation
  • May 2017: Field work started
  • August 2017: Field work complete
  • October 2017: Post process sidewalk data
  • November 2017: December 2017: Finalize sidewalk condition ratings and update sidewalk data in the asset management system/map layers, test the repair prioritization model and perform proactive beveling on selected sidewalks
  • December 2017: January 2018: Publish the sidewalk repair prioritization model and program report
  • May 2018: Implement a data maintenance tool and publish public maps of observations
  • 2018-2019: Implement a proactive repair program, improved claims response, and property owner education and notification programs, and update the Transportation Asset Status and Condition Report

Property Owners and The City; who is responsible for what on sidewalks? What can property owners and occupants do to help make Seattle the most walkable city in the nation?  Property owners and occupants are responsible for maintaining the sidewalks adjacent to their property.  This includes providing a clear walking path for pedestrians that is at least 36 inches wide by 80 inches high.  Make it a fun activity by organizing a neighborhood sidewalk cleaning party.  Hire a licensed and bonded contractor to do more significant repairs.  Beveling or concrete contractors are available to quickly grind the surface of a sidewalk.  Employing a contractor with your neighbors can reduce the cost per area and help improve an entire sidewalk.  If you need to complete more significant repairs involving construction, refer to SDOT's  Client Assistance Memo 2208, which covers property owner responsibilities and how to obtain a sidewalk repair permit.

Seattle's Sidewalk Repair Program mitigates or repairs sidewalks based on criteria in Municipal Code 15.71.  We may place asphalt shims over cracks and uplifts on sidewalks, bevel or grind the sidewalk to create a flush surface, or paint a sidewalk to indicate the change in elevation of the walking surface. All three of these activities are temporary in nature and are used to mitigate an area before long-term repairs can be made.

Sidewalk concerns can be reported in three ways:

Project Prioritization

We are using the field survey data to identify ways to improve our sidewalk conditions including:

  • A sidewalk repair and replacement prioritization approach that meets customer needs, repair program prioritization, Pedestrian Master Plan implementation criteria, Client Assistance Memo 2208, Age-Friendly Seattle Resolution 31739, and Municipal Code 15.72 guidance
  • A proactive sidewalk inspection program
  • Abutting property owner and occupant education
  • A System-wide analysis that proposes funding and approaches required for repairs or mitigation

The goal of prioritizing sidewalk repairs is to provide the best value to the community given a limited repair budget.  Each sidewalk will be scored in four different categories: safety risk score, mobility impairment score, cost score, and usage score. The safety risk score weighs the potential injury risk to sidewalk users. The mobility impairment score captures the hindrance to users with limited walking and sight abilities.  The cost score indicates the estimated expense to correct the sidewalk condition.  The usage score concerns the number and purpose of sidewalk users. Sidewalks that are in proximity of important and high demand facilities, include government facilities (community centers, libraries, parks, social services), health services/hospitals, transit stations and corridors, employment centers, schools, and senior/disabled housing.

Employment facilities and residential sidewalks are lower in the priority, as reflected in ADA guidance. Final selection of repairs will consider:

  • Specifics of each problem and solution, including responsible party
  • Coordination with other programs (Ped Master Plan, Seattle Greenways, Safe Routes to School, Seattle 2035 Comp Plan) and other departments/agencies
  • Economies of scale, program efficiencies
  • Race and Social Justice Objectives, geographical equity, other city programs, and policies

Observation Data

Team members

55 people across nine teams participated in the A City for All Hackathon held in late September 2017.  With $10,000 in cash prizes provided through the AARP Livable Cities Challenge Grant and category-specific swag provided by Microsoft, Socrata, and Tableau, the competition was high. Asset & Performance Management staff provided mentorship and project pitches related to intake of asset information and the sidewalk condition assessment.  Team SeaSidewalks picked up our pitch and won in two categories: Best Use of Open Data and Best Data Visualization. The tool visualizes data from sidewalk assessment, prioritizing issues as well as points of interest (such as medical facilities) and demographics, to help make the best use of limited sidewalk repair budgets and support the Age-Friendly, Vision Zero, and Complete Streets initiatives.  The interactive map can be viewed at

Data obtained during the Sidewalk Condition Assessment is currently in beta form and can be accessed through the following links.  Please note, this data is not yet in production and will be replaced in 2018 with a set that is regularly updated.

Observations: OR

Sidewalk Assessment Crew at work

2017 Sidewalk Condition Assessment & Previous Inventory Projects

SDOT's original sidewalk inventory, collected in 2007, included a partial condition assessment of 25% of sidewalks in urban villages. Between 2007 and 2016, an additional 5% of the city's sidewalk conditions were updated in the inventory from private and public construction. In 2016, SDOT completed a survey of over 34,000 curb ramps and provided the data in a public map called the Seattle Accessible Route Planner. This interactive map includes information like street slopes, curb ramp condition and presence, sidewalk condition and presence, transit access, construction zones impacting the sidewalk, and public facilities like hospitals and libraries. The Sidewalk Condition Assessment project goal was to collect detailed condition information about our sidewalks. We located cracks, uplifts, and obstructions on the city's sidewalks and then assigning an overall condition rating (i.e., good, fair, poor) based on the data collected for this project. This rating will be used to inform repair and replacement prioritization efforts and to design a more proactive inspection program for our sidewalks. Click here for more information about the Transportation Asset Status and Condition Report and the department's Asset & Performance Management program.

Contact our office via e-mail or phone (206-733-9972) with any questions on this project.  

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