Congratulations to the city of Rock Hill for trying to keep up with repairing crumbling sidewalks. But as pedestrians know, many sidewalks already have gone unrepaired for some time.
City officials say they are about halfway finished with a project to compile an inventory of sidewalks on local streets and some state-owned streets that soon might need repairs. The city said the assessment process could take a year to finish.
Since mid-2011, the city has replaced nearly 13,000 linear feet of sidewalk. Rock Hill budgets about $100,000 annually to pay for replacing sidewalks and making curb repairs, with the cost of materials averaging about $5 a foot.
The city states that maintaining sidewalks and protecting pedestrian safety is a high priority. A number of high-traffic sidewalks, including those on Hampton Street near City Hall, already have been fixed.
But, we suspect, many regular walkers could point out sidewalks in their neighborhoods that are in a dangerous state of disrepair. And with recent freezing weather, the list could grow.
Damage is inevitable over the years for a variety of reasons. Invasive tree roots are a common problem. As trees grow, roots at the base of the trees can poke through the surface, spreading under sidewalks, pushing them up and eventually cracking them.
Shifting ground, contraction and expansion with changes in temperature and accidents, such as a falling tree, also can damage sidewalks. And regular wear and tear also takes its toll.
In some cases, these sidewalks are an accident waiting to happen. A pedestrian not paying full attention to where he is going could easily trip on a bad crack or loose piece of concrete, or lose his balance on a sidewalk bulging up because of a large tree root underneath it.
You don’t have to be a klutz for this to happen. Some of the broken sidewalks in the city are treacherous for anyone.
We applaud the city for maintaining an inventory of sidewalks in need of repair and for tackling some of the worst areas. We hope maintenance crews are kept busy on this effort.
And if more money is needed to ensure that sidewalk repairs keep pace with the need, we hope the city will budget more. Officials don’t want someone breaking a hip.