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Posted on Wed, May 9, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Ann Arbor embarks on first five-year sidewalk repair program using new millage

By Ryan J. Stanton

Following last November's voter approval of a new sidewalk millage, Ann Arbor officials are about to embark on a new five-year repair program.

The Ann Arbor City Council this week awarded a $564,460 contract to the Doan Construction Co. for the 2012 ramp and sidewalk repair project.

The first year's work will consist of the repair of deficient sidewalks in 20 percent of the city, with the goal of performing maintenance on the city's entire sidewalk system over five years.


Sidewalks in Ann Arbor will see more improvements this year.

Jeff Sainlar |

The project also includes the continued replacement of sidewalk curb ramps to meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The new sidewalk millage, a 0.125-mill levy, was approved by Ann Arbor voters with 60.1 percent support in November.

According to city officials, the 0.125-mill sidewalk millage translates to $13.37 a year in new taxes for the average homeowner.

Ann Arbor's city code previously required property owners to maintain sidewalks adjacent to their properties on their own. With the $560,000-plus a year the sidewalk millage will raise, city officials are shifting that responsibility away from individual property owners to the city.

The $13 a year the average resident will pay for the millage is about one-tenth the cost of a single slab.

City officials released a map this week showing the areas around the city that are scheduled to be included in the 2012 project.

Depending on the status of the budget upon completion of work, the city might add additional areas to the contract to take advantage of favorable pricing, said Homayoon Pirooz, head of the city's project management unit.

Pirooz said the city received four bids, which were opened on March 30. Doan's bid came in $256,719 lower than the city engineer's estimate of $821,179.

The council established a $256,000 contingency within the project budget, which allows City Administrator Steve Powers to approve additional change orders up to that amount.


The city released this map showing where sidewalk improvements are going to happen this year.

Courtesy of city of Ann Arbor

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Thu, May 10, 2012 : 1:39 p.m.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE - DO NOT CUT TREE ROOTS WHEN REPLACING SIDEWALKS!!! It is better to "bridge" the tree roots with an expandable material or allow the sidewalk to be raised sllightly (I know it is an ADA issue, but a small grade change, as long as there is no "lip" is acceptable.) We are losing mature trees left and right in Ann Arbor due to all the road and sidewalk construction. Mature trees add a lot more value to a home than 10 feet of new sidewalk!! And for Pete's sake, ask people if they wouldn;t MIND re-grading a little instead of puttting a frigging retaining wall at the corner when a ramp expansion is needed!!! cc: Homayoon Pirooz


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 1:18 a.m.

In rough numbers, the city had anticipating paying $821,000 + $256,000(Contingency) = $1,077,000 dollars for the work but only had to pay $821,000 minus $256,000 = $546,000 for the work. That leaves $1,077,000 - $546,000= 531,000 dollars to the good. The aggrieved who were made to pay for the work in previous years should demand from their elected officials compensation from the city paid from this 531,000 dollar fund. It is only fair that the aggrieved who suffered through the pain of a city in financial trouble should be able to enjoy the benefits of lower than anticipated construction costs. Additionally, the value of the aforementioned ADA screw up by the city should be rebated to each and every individual homeowner from this 531,000 dollar fund.


Wed, May 9, 2012 : 11:07 p.m.

130 odd dollers per slab? Does that seem high? Maybe someone who works concrete can help me out.

Jim Osborn

Wed, May 9, 2012 : 8:09 p.m.

Why not repair the worst sidewalks as needed? Why the zones?


Wed, May 9, 2012 : 9:27 p.m.

The city do anything thats logical....come , come, now...this is OZ takes intelligence to run a city ..nuff said


Wed, May 9, 2012 : 6:46 p.m.

You people and your lawsuit delusions need to understand that LAWS CHANGE. If today the speed limit is 25 and you get a ticket for going 45 today. Then tomorrow the speed limit is changed to 45, you can not say the ticket is invalid. How hard is that to understand?

Macabre Sunset

Wed, May 9, 2012 : 6:44 p.m.

I certainly have sympathy for the homeowners who were forced to repair sidewalks at their expense the last few years. And sympathy for the taxpayers as a whole, forced to pay millions, overall, to fit sidewalks with ramps and plates and doodads that may be useful once every hundred years in most areas. However... this is what you get with a one-party governmental system. Hieftje has done an absolutely horrible job as mayor, but with a one-party system, he can't be defeated.

Macabre Sunset

Wed, May 9, 2012 : 10:05 p.m.

Yes, the new millage itself was voted upon. But not the policy of singling people out randomly and forcing them to pay for repairs. I don't like the concept of separate millages, either. Funds all come from the same source: the taxpayers. If we voted on everything, I doubt council or the mayor would receive a single dime in salary. Did we vote to open up 5th and pour millions of dollars into a giant hole? Special assessments may be the norm these days, but they teach local government officials that they don't need to be responsible with our money.

Tony Livingston

Wed, May 9, 2012 : 8:51 p.m.

It's not the party. This was put to a vote. People voted for it. That is the problem.


Wed, May 9, 2012 : 7:47 p.m.

If there was a viable replacement for hizzhonor, I'm sure he or she would have been elected the last time around.

5c0++ H4d13y

Wed, May 9, 2012 : 5:15 p.m.

I hope they charge all the homeowners that did not comply with the city's mandatory repairs before this was passed. What a scam.


Wed, May 9, 2012 : 5:05 p.m.

I like how the repair area map includes a large area along Dexter Ave. (Valley, Hollywood, Kuenhle) that are dirt roads with no sidewalks. Yep, they have already got those areas all taken care of. Thanks. I'm glad I get to pay for somebody else's repairs.


Wed, May 9, 2012 : 4:51 p.m.

Class action lawsuit? You folks are kidding, right? "The new sidewalk millage, a 0.125-mill levy, was approved by Ann Arbor voters with 60.1 percent support in November." The city is not suddenly doing something to you. The voters approved a new tax and the city is spending that money as now required by law. I do think someone like SMC, however, may have a leg to stand on. The city came in and destroyed something SMC was forced by the city to pay to fix. That's WAY different than paying for repairs under an old law and now the law has changed. Maybe some of you campaigned against the new millage. Unfortunately, you lost. I am sympathetic. But to now threaten a class action lawsuit is silly. Who are you suing? The voters? Good luck with that.


Wed, May 9, 2012 : 4:20 p.m.

SMC writes : "2 years ago, the city forced us to replace most of our sidewalks, on a corner lot, which cost several thousand dollars. Then last year, they came through and ripped up every inch of our new sidewalk, to add a gentle slope for the new curb ramps they put in. Now this. Utter nonsense." People (including those considering a class action lawsuit) should also remember the fact that the City had constructed many of what they claimed were ADA compliant sidewalk ramps at street intersections. The City was sued by the Center for Independent Living (C.I.L.)who correctly claimed the newly constructed ramps were in fact not ADA compliant. The City should have known this. The C.I.L. prevailed, meaning the ramps built were wasted time, public monies, and effort and had to be torn out. Not only is the city double dipping - having homeowners pay for the sidewalks for a time then turning around and charging the sidewalk / ramp tax. But it also conveniently has homeowners paying for non compliant ramps to be built, the non-compliant ramps to be torn out, and then for proper ramps to be built. Elected officials need to explain their version how this is right and just. Lacking a good and honest explanation, best wishes on the class action lawsuit.

Alan Goldsmith

Wed, May 9, 2012 : 3:37 p.m.

Folks in the 4th Ward who paid hundreds to replace their own sidewalks on orders from the City need to keep this in mind when voting in the August Democratic Party primary and not forget to vote out our wonderful, and worthlessly ineffective Council person Margie Teall.

Tony Livingston

Wed, May 9, 2012 : 8:48 p.m.

This was put to a public vote and the citizens of Ann Arbor voted for it. Yes the council dreamed it up (Chris Taylor I believe) but people voted for it. Most Ann Arborites don't deal with the city much so they don't realize how horribly inefficient they are with our tax dollars

Haran Rashes

Wed, May 9, 2012 : 3:13 p.m.

As a resident of a condo complex, my sidewalks are "private" so they are repaired out of my condo association fee. So I get doubly hit paying taxes for sidewalk repairs.


Wed, May 9, 2012 : 2:51 p.m.

yes, I and the neighbors spent hundreds of dollars each to repair multiple sidewalk squares in front of our homes (we went in on it together with the same company to get a discount). The squares the city told us in a letter we had to repair made no sense and it took several attempts to get someone from the city out for us to "contest" the required work, the first person to arrived didn't understand what a retired engineer was saying to him (hey, I had my dad make the calls) The second person from the city that came out agreed and realized EVERY SINGLE neighbors chart of needed repairs WAS WRONG. This saved neighbors of ours at least two squares of work each. Our driveway needed to be redone also ( the city installed a sump pump due to flooding in the basement, so that required our driveway to have a nasty cut made across it, redoing it at our expense naturally) ANYWAY, the work was paid for by homeowners, the two owners on either corner within a few months had the city come out and rip up their new squares to install new curbs. and yes, all the squares replaced were due to the city trees roots, many of the roots removed to replace the squares were 12" in diameter! Now we see on the lovely map OUR neighborhood is slated for repairs this year. Incredibly stupid! I walk my dog everyday and there are no problems as every few feet you see a newer slab, that the HOMEOWNER paid to put in. thanks, we spent close to $600 not including the driveway.


Wed, May 9, 2012 : 2:05 p.m.

2 years ago, the city forced us to replace most of our sidewalks, on a corner lot, which cost several thousand dollars. Then last year, they came through and ripped up every inch of our new sidewalk, to add a gentle slope for the new curb ramps they put in. Now this. Utter nonsense.


Wed, May 9, 2012 : 1:35 p.m.

Now when the city rebuilds sidewalks are they going to be the same width or are they going to make them 3/4 as wide and claim that they have the same capacity? Maybe with a little tiny bike lane.


Wed, May 9, 2012 : 1:53 p.m.

To many riders, the sidewalk IS the bike lane, ped at your own risk.


Wed, May 9, 2012 : 1:01 p.m.

So glad that I repaired my own sidewalk as the city demanded I do. Where's the first meeting for the class-action?


Wed, May 9, 2012 : 12:34 p.m.

Doan's bid came in $256,719 lower than the city engineer's estimate of $821,179. This discrepancy does not instill much faith in the city engineer! Maybe we should estimate his salary.


Wed, May 9, 2012 : 12:22 p.m.

I hope this encourages more sidewalks and subsequently more safe travel for are school aged children. I am always a little concerned when I see children walking/riding in the street and there is not even a sidewalk option for them. Repairs are a great start. But we also need to continue to make our city more walkable/rideable and live up to our national reputation.

Tony Livingston

Wed, May 9, 2012 : 8:45 p.m.

You mean like around Pioneer High School? No sidewalks to the rear along Scio Church, no sidewalk along the west side of 7th, and the sidewalk leading up to the school on 7th just suddenly ends at the driveway. This is a school and it is one of the most dangerous areas during the months where it is dark when school starts. Shame on both the school district and the city on this one.


Wed, May 9, 2012 : 2:48 p.m.

I agree with @America 100%. More and better sidewalks are cited as one of many pieces of a possible solution to slow down or reverse the increasing trend among adults and children toward obesity. From a Reuters article from 5/8/12: "For instance, a lack of sidewalks makes it impossible to safely walk to work, school or even neighbors' homes in many communities. So while 20 percent of trips between school and home among kids 5 to 15 were on foot in 1977, that figure had dropped to 12.5 percent by 2001." And I doubt the trend has reversed in the subsequent 11 years.


Wed, May 9, 2012 : 12:07 p.m.

You just got to love this town, city puts in trees next to sidewalks so eventually all sidewalks are lifted by the roots, they make everyone pay for the repairs or be fined to fix a problem they initiated, they've stopped just about all the snow removal programs you pay some of the highest property taxes in the state. You have an art committee that just dropped $150K on a whim and will spend another $400K later in the year and everyone is happy. Go figure.

Tony Livingston

Wed, May 9, 2012 : 8:42 p.m.

The tree roots don't just damage the sidewalks, they get into the sanitary sewer lines. Those repairs are extremely expensive. Just try to get the city to take down one of these nuisance trees that they stuck in the wrong place. They won't even consider it.


Wed, May 9, 2012 : 12:07 p.m.

I would be most happy to join a class action law suit against the city. I am being taxed twice now for work I had performed done at my expense.


Wed, May 9, 2012 : 3:26 p.m.

whine whine whine


Wed, May 9, 2012 : 11:08 a.m.

Feel sorry for the property owners " forced " to do the citys job prior to this ...maybe they should " call Sam " for a class action recovery suit least it's a start doing something of value vs. buying $ 150.000 " the taxpayers be dammned " hanging bangles....

Former A2 Resident

Wed, May 9, 2012 : 12:07 p.m.

Yes, my elderly mother was forced to repair her "sidewalk to nowhere." The adjoinng property doesn't have a sidewalk, so no one ever uses hers. To make matters worse the sidewalk heaved due to roots from trees planted by the city.


Wed, May 9, 2012 : 10:44 a.m.

Well, at least they gave the sidewalk contract to a local company, instead of the out-of-state (and country) "art contracts".


Wed, May 9, 2012 : 10:42 a.m.

I hope that all of the funds that were approved for sidewalk improvements goes toward that project and was not skimmed of any percentage for art.


Wed, May 9, 2012 : 9:19 p.m.

Carole this is part of the percent for art program.