Take a walk on many of the older sidewalks in Wenatchee and you may encounter uneven sections that pose a trip hazard.

The City of Wenatchee Public Works department is trying to eliminate dangerous sections of sidewalk with a comprehensive program but the public's input is part of the solution.

Wenatchee's Code requires property owners to maintain the sidewalk in a safe condition and clear of any obstructions like snow or leaves and debris.

Repairing damaged or uneven sections of the sidewalk is a greater undertaking.  In recent years, the City Council has asked that the City take steps to help residential property owners with sidewalk hazards.

On a recent walk from KPQ's studios to the Apple Blossom Food Fair, I came across a section of sidewalk in downtown Wenatchee that was marked with strips of yellow tape.  The area of dangerous sidewalk stretched about 25 yards.

Trip hazards marked by City of Wenatchee Image: Dave Bernstein/KPQ
Trip hazards marked by City of Wenatchee Image: Dave Bernstein/KPQ
Trip hazards marked by City of Wenatchee Image: Dave Bernstein/KPQ
Trip hazards marked by City of Wenatchee Image: Dave Bernstein/KPQ

When asking Mayor Poirier about what the City of Wenatchee is doing about dangerous sidewalks, he connected me with Aaron Kelly who is the Public Works Operations Manager for Wenatchee.  Kelly outlined detailed for me a program the City has implemented to identify hazardous sections and remove the tripping hazards.

I have a concern like many people with older parents about tripping hazards, both in the home or on the neighborhood walk.  My late mother once tripped on an uneven section of sidewalk in Seattle and ended up with a serious knee injury.  My dad is having mobility issues in his old age and has suffered a broken hip and another fracture on the other leg.

 It turns out the bright yellow marks were placed by the City to alert pedestrians to the hazardous sections.  Kelly himself had visited the same location and Public Works used yellow road marking tape to the danger while the plan to eliminate the hazard is determined.

What Does The City of Wenatchee Do With Sections of Dangerous Sidewalks?

When an uneven sidewalk panel is identified along a residential street, Public Works will take the following steps;

  • The uneven panel is marked with yellow paint to alert pedestrians and the location is entered into a tracking database.
  • The panel is evaluated for potential grinding (bevel) to even the panels and if grinding is feasible, it’s added to the grinding list.
  • If grinding is not feasible, Public Works staff will install temporary wedges with concrete or asphalt to even out the sidewalk surface.
  • These locations will be logged into the tracking database for future panel replacement.
  • Tree roots are the most common reason for an uneven sidewalk panel and if the tree is healthy, the City looks for options to save the tree while repairing the sidewalk.
  • In some cases, the sidewalk may be removed and a temporary asphalt sidewalk will be installed until funding is available to address both the tree and sidewalk issues.
A trip hazard that has been beveled to grind down a trip hazard Image: Dave Bernstein/KPQ
A trip hazard that has been beveled to grind down a trip hazard Image: Dave Bernstein/KPQ

Dangerous City Sidewalks,  a Concern Since 2018

Kelly says the City started working on the problem as early as 2018 and found the City of Seattle's approach to address dangerous sidewalk panels by grinding areas as an option here.  Since 2020, the City of Wenatchee has contracted with Precision Concrete Cutting to bevel and grind dangerous sections of sidewalk to level out the transition where a sidewalk section has become uneven.

Wenatchee appears to be making headway.  Over the last 4 years, Kelly reports the City has resolved over 2900 problems with heaving sidewalk panels.  In 2023, the City used a Community Development Block Grant to replace about 7,100 square feet of sidewalk and install about 1,100 square feet of new sidewalks where no sidewalks  existed.

In 2023, the City spent just under $400,000 on sidewalk repairs and is budgeted to spend another $200,000 this year.

The spending includes accessible curb ramps.  Kelly says the ramps are a high priority and are key to making sidewalks, street crossings, and the other pedestrian routes accessible for everyone. With ongoing funding, it is a long-term goal that all intersections in the City have accessible curb ramps. In 2022, the over 90 accessible curb ramps were replaced or installed with a similar total in 2023.

How Do I Report A Dangerous Sidewalk Section in Wenatchee?

To report a section of city sidewalk that represents a tripping hazard because of sunken or raised panels pr cracked sections, property owners and the general public can reach out to City of Wenatchee Public Works Department.

The direct phone number is 509-888-3200.  To report an issue online, follow this link to the city website and click the CONTACT US tab to find the page below

City of Wenatchee website
City of Wenatchee website

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