Sidewalk Condition Assessment Project

Sidewalk condition issues: 60% Uplifts, 25% surface condition, 13% obstruction, 2% cross slopeWith a replacement value of over $5.6 billion dollars, Seattle’s sidewalks are one of the city’s most valuable assets. During the summer of 2017, we hired 14 college interns to collect data on over 2,300 miles of city sidewalk. The assessment not only validated asset data on over 34,000 blocks of sidewalk, but also produced information that will help inform repair efforts and develop a proactive repair program.

We recorded observations along all known City of Seattle sidewalks. The information collected included slab uplifts, other vertical height differences, obstructions, cross slopes, cracks, and vegetation overgrowth. We also collected the location of benches and other street furnishings, pedestrian rails, and curb bulbs. All told, over 156,000 data points were collected. Interns found over 92,000 uplifts, 38,000 surface conditions, 20,000 obstructions, and 3,600 isolated cross slope issues. Using this data, we updated our existing sidewalk inventory, of over 34,000 block faces, with current field conditions and added cross slope information.

The primary goal of this project was to collect observations about our sidewalks to help inform our maintenance and repair needs. By locating issues on the sidewalks, we were able to assign condition ratings to 99% of the inventory. Observations are used to inform repair and replacement efforts and to design a more proactive sidewalk inspection approach. Temporary and permanent obstructions, such as vegetation, perpendicular curbs, and utility poles, can make it difficult for people using wheelchairs or canes to pass through a sidewalk. Using the data acquired through this assessment, we can focus on making the city more accessible for everyone, including those with mobility disabilities.

The information collected will allow us to:

  • Project system-wide repair needs
  • Recommend additional funding for proactive repairs
  • Increase awareness of sidewalk maintenance needs
  • Enact a sidewalk inspection and enforcement program
  • Respond to claims and support litigation efforts
  • Take advantage of possible funding opportunities including grants
  • Explore the possibility of implementing property point of sale programs, property owner cost sharing programs, and sidewalk repair under adjacent private and publicly permitted projects
  • Enhance property owner education

Our crew

Project Schedule

Time PeriodSchedule
January-March 2017
  • Project planning
  • Design
  • Tool testing
May 2017
  • Start of data collection
September 2017
  • End of data collection
October 2017-January 2018
  • Post-process data
  • Update asset condition data
January-February 2018
  • Draft executive summary
March-April 2018
  • Executive summary
  • Council Briefing
  • Options Analysis
Q2-Q4 2018
  • Pilot repair prioritization
  • Publish final report
  • Implement Inspection Tool
  • Publish external web maps
June 2019
  • Update Transportation Status & Condition Report
  • Implement funded programs supported by Options Analysis

Sidewalk Assessment Report

SDOT received $400,000 to perform a Sidewalk Condition Assessment in 2017. The Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board (SPAB) advocated for the study in their evaluation of the Pedestrian Master Plan (PMP). We presented the sidewalk assessment project findings and recommendations to the Sustainability and Transportation Council Committee on March 20, 2018 and the SPAB on April 11, 2018. Read the report.

Property Owners and The City; 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 our Client Assistance Memo 2208, which covers property owner information 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:

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. View the interactive map.

We are using the collected data to implement an interactive sidewalk observation application that will help us build sustainable data. This application will allow us to correct or update observation data when we perform inspections, install mitigation measures such as asphalt shims or bevel the sidewalk to match the grade, and when we are notified of sidewalks repairs performed by our crews or capital, private, and utility projects. After implementing this application, we will develop an interactive web map and educational web site that supports property owner education.

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.

Observations

Sidewalk Assessment Crew at work

2017 Sidewalk Condition Assessment & Previous Inventory Projects

Our 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, we 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. More information about the Transportation Asset Status and Condition Report and the department's Asset & Performance Management program.

Contact our office via e-mail at SDOTAssets@seattle.gov or phone at 206-733-9972 with any questions on this project.

Are you facing aging or disability issues?

Contact Community Living Connections or call 1-844-348-5654 to get free, objective, confidential information about community resources and service options.