Walking connects people and is the cornerstone of a thriving, livable city.
It’s also essential to health and a catalyst for economic development. A well-maintained sidewalk network is also one of the best ways we can help older adults maintain their independence.
Yet if you live, work or play in Atlanta, you’ve probably tripped or fallen on a broken sidewalk.
In 2010, the Public Works Department estimated the cost of repairing broken sidewalks and curb ramps at $203 million. It also estimated the cost of annual sidewalk disintegration at $15 million. Seven years have passed, so by now the cost may exceed $300 million.
Despite that, Atlanta’s elected officials continue to kick the enormous backlog of broken sidewalks down the road.
Fixing broken sidewalks requires three things:
- An effective sidewalk policy
- The funding needed to implement it
- Public accountability
The law requiring people to pay for repairs to sidewalks next to their property is a big part of the problem. The law is unfair and politically unpopular. It’s especially inappropriate for a city with a high poverty rate. Indeed, Public Works devotes virtually zero effort to enforcing it.
City Council members recognize the need to invest more in sidewalk maintenance. But actions speak louder than words, and officials have repeatedly reneged on promises to fund sidewalk repairs. The Renew Atlanta program is a blatant example.
Transparency matters, especially when it comes to money.
In Atlanta, far too many decisions are made behind closed doors. That’s how money intended to pay for systemic changes – such as routine sidewalk maintenance – ends up being allocated to wasteful pet projects.
How much is Atlanta investing to address the backlog of broken sidewalks? And what is it investing in? No one knows, and city officials are doing little to find out.
Addressing these challenges is our top priority.
The 2017 elections brought new leadership to the Atlanta – and we’re thrilled that many are committed to changing Atlanta’s sidewalk policy and increasing funding. Many also care deeply about increasing transparency.
You can count on us to work with Atlanta officials to bring the changes needed to fix Atlanta’s sidewalks. We can’t do this on our own, so we’ll be in touch when your voice will make a difference.