Sidewalk Repair Program

What we do

The Sidewalk Repair Program oversees the maintenance of the City's sidewalks and curbs. The program’s goal is to make sidewalks safe and accessible.

Adjacent Property Owners are Responsible for Maintaining 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 Permit. This ensures the walkway meets the City's standards. Prior to pruning tree roots greater than 2 inches in diameter, you must arrange for an SDOT Arborist to evaluate how the pruning will impact the tree's health and public safety. Call 684-TREE (8733).

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.

Maintaining Street Trees

Typically, street trees planted by the City are either maintained by 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.

Seattle has over 2,100 miles of sidewalks and pathways covering approximately 75% of the blocks in the City. That leaves roughly 850 miles of streets without sidewalks. For more information on the Sidewalk Inventory, see the Asset Management Inventory page.

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.

Funding

The Sidewalk Repair Program is funded by the Levy to Move Seattle.