You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Sidewalk repairs ahead: Ann Arbor plans to spend $1M in select areas this year

By Ryan J. Stanton


The four geographic areas of Ann Arbor where sidewalk repairs are happening this year.

City of Ann Arbor

The city of Ann Arbor is gearing up for hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of city-funded sidewalk repairs expected to take place in the coming months.

City officials released maps this week showing the four geographic areas of Ann Arbor that will be the focus of the city's 2013 curb ramp and sidewalk repair project.

Inspectors will be walking up and down each and every sidewalk in the identified areas and marking slabs that need repair or replacement, city officials said.


This damaged sidewalk on Huron Street, a few blocks west of Main Street, is in an area where sidewalk repairs are happening this year.

Ryan J. Stanton |

The Ann Arbor City Council approved two contracts for the project this week — a $748,577 contract with Doan Construction Co. and a $207,350 contract with Precision Concrete Cutting.

Doan is the main contractor. Precision Concrete is handling the horizontal cutting of sidewalk slabs that have "vaulted" or "displaced" joints, essentially leveling out potential trip hazards.

"By horizontally cutting sidewalk that is in otherwise good condition, we can avoid its removal and replacement," said Nick Hutchinson, the city's interim project management unit manager.

Each time the city can fix a slab by trimming it, the city will save roughly $164 by not completely replacing it, Hutchinson said.

The council approved a $75,000 contingency in case change orders are needed to the contract with Doan, plus a $21,000 contingency for the contract with Precision Concrete. That pushes the total potential cost of this year's sidewalk repairs above $1 million.

The project, funded by the sidewalk repair millage approved by city voters in 2011, involves repairing damaged sidewalks in roughly one-fifth of the city. It doesn't include installing new sidewalks in areas where there are gaps in the sidewalk system.

Hutchinson noted this is the second year of a new five-year program designed to perform maintenance on the city's entire sidewalk system.

The first of the four areas where work will be done this year is the far northeast corner of the city, near Arbor Hills, north of Plymouth Road and west of US-23.

The second area includes neighborhoods north of Huron Street, all the way from the Ann Arbor Railroad tracks to the University of Michigan Health System, and extending north to the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks, which are now owned by the state. Within that area is the full length of North Main Street from Huron north to the Ann Arbor Railroad tracks.

The third area starts from the Ann Arbor Railroad tracks and extends into neighborhoods just west of downtown, south of Miller Avenue and north of Liberty Street, going as far as Virginia Avenue in the southern portion of that area and as far as Revena Boulevard in the northern portion.


A foot imprint and a groove that appears to have been caused by a bike tire left this slab on Division Street damaged. It happens to be in an area where sidewalk repairs are happening this year.

Ryan J. Stanton |

The fourth and last area starts close to the Stadium bridges and extends south and east, including neighborhoods on both sides of Packard and as far south as Ellsworth Road.

Before the approval of the sidewalk millage, which costs the average homeowner a little more than $13 a year, individual property owners were responsible for repairing damaged sidewalks adjacent to their properties on their own. The new program spreads the costs across the city's entire tax base.

In 2012, the city replaced about 1,475 slabs of sidewalk through the new millage-funded program, while trimming an additional 6,380 slabs — at a total cost of $561,000.

The city also used its street and sidewalk repair millage last year to pay for 395 new sidewalk curb ramps at street corners.

This year's project includes the continued replacement of sidewalk curb ramps to meet requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The city remains under a consent decree stemming from a lawsuit brought by Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living to bring all corner curb ramps into ADA compliance on streets that were resurfaced or reconstructed between 1992 and 2004. The work must be done by 2018.

The center claimed in its August 2004 lawsuit that the city had failed to build curb ramps according to federal and state accessibility guidelines and standards.

The city released maps this week showing the specific locations that are getting curb ramp repairs this year. (Download the maps.)


This damaged sidewalk on Ann Street, across from the rear entrance to city hall, is in an area where sidewalk repairs are happening this year.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Depending on the status of the budget upon completion of work in the focus areas, other locations could be added to the contract to take advantage of favorable pricing, city officials said.

Vaulted sidewalk slabs will be cut in cases where the vertical displacement is greater than half an inch in height. Vertical displacements greater than an inch in height are considered too large for cutting and are generally planned to be removed and replaced with new sidewalk.

Council Member Chuck Warpehoski, D-5th Ward, joined his colleagues in supporting the curb ramp and sidewalk repair contracts this week, but he noted the city's curb ramp replacement program does nothing to improve intersections where there aren't existing curb cuts.

Warpehoski said making sure that existing ramps are fully accessible is important, but he'd like the city to find ways to make all intersections fully accessible.

"I was walking down West Washington today, looking at some of those sites that are slated for ramp replacement, and they've all got ramps there — it's an upgrade," he said. "I also crossed several places where there were no curb cuts, and I was pushing a double-stroller at the time, and the lack of curb cuts, what that means even for people who are currently able-bodied, was very clear to me."

Council Member Mike Anglin, D-5th Ward, recalled the city settled a lawsuit a few years ago with a woman in his neighborhood who fell and broke her knee on a city sidewalk. Anglin said he's told that the sidewalk where she fell still hasn't been repaired after three years.

"I think anytime we have a lawsuit on any piece of property, fix it immediately," he said. "Get out there and do it and get it done — even if someone falls and it might be their fault."

Anglin added: "People just don't fall in the street because they like falling down."

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.


Ann English

Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 12:11 a.m.

Good map, Ryan. By close scrutiny, I can find Broadway on this map, and Hiawatha too. I can tell that the Kilbourne Park residents will be among the first to get sidewalk repair. Green Road is marked in green, from Nixon to its dead southern end beyond Glazier Way.

Ann English

Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 11:42 p.m.

Even with the sidewalk repair work, the Water Hill Music Festival will not be affected; the map above shows Sunset, Brooks, and Miller in green, and no sidewalk repairs on the east side of Water Hill either, bordered by the AA Railroad tracks. No shaded areas within Water Hill.

Ann English

Sun, Apr 7, 2013 : 11:05 p.m.

There's a Spring Hill street, but it's somewhere in the northeast (Logan Elementary School) corner of town. The Water Hill Music Festival will be held on May 5, 2-6 pm this year. The rain date is May 12. says that streams ran down this hill before hydrological engineering confined the water to underground pipes.


Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 12:52 p.m.

Will the Water Hill Festival be held at Spring Hill again this year?

Sam S Smith

Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 8:03 p.m.

I wish that the people who repaired and/or replaced sidewalks in front/side of their homes could get just a little tax break in city taxes at least for one time for the repairs/replacements they paid for their sidewalks!


Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 7:40 p.m.

More wasted bucket money in Ann Arbor. The city needs leadership replacement before sidewalk replacement.


Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 5:30 p.m.

1. The mandatory sidewalk repair a few years ago should have lead to the repair of sidewalks downtown Ann Arbor. Some of the pictures above seem like repairs more then a few years old. Why didn't these properties get repaired during the mandatory periods when it was the property owner's responsibility? 2. The sidewalks in front of my home were fine when inspected. I was in one of the last sections to be assessed and marked. Now I have some major heaving, (probably due to the growth of the City's tree's on my easement), but the city won't be fixing them for several years. What is suppose to happen in the meantime?


Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 5:58 p.m.

Contact the city, just like it says here:


Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 5:10 p.m.

"The city remains under a consent decree stemming from a lawsuit brought by Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living to bring all corner curb ramps into ADA compliance on streets that were resurfaced or reconstructed between 1992 and 2004. The work must be done by 2018." Ryan, Am i correct in reading this to mean (1) that ADA requires a city to effect ADA compliance not by retrofitting all sidewalks, etc., but by making sure all new sidewalks and significant repairs are in compliance, and (2) that the work to be "done by 2018" is required because the city didn't do what ADA required between 1992 and 2004?


Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 4:35 p.m.

Does this mean the sidewalk on the west side of stone school road between eisenhower and packard will finally be brought up to code? The most shameful part is that a chunk of the shoddy sidewalk there is along a city park. Same question about the lack of a side walk on the west side of stone school road from bitch hollow Dr north about halfway to Eisenhower. Again, a large chunk of the missing sidewalk is actually in front of a city park.

Ann English

Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 11:59 p.m.

The entire west side of Stone School Road is shaded, so it does mean that the sidewalk there will be repaired. Birch Hollow Drive is in that shaded area. But no area on the EAST side of Stone School Road is shaded. Sidewalks in front of businesses will be repaired, such as those on South Industrial, Varsity, and Phoenix Drive.


Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 4:16 p.m.

It is all about law suites and liability. I do agree that sidwalks near City Hall, need to be replaced and maintained. Sidewalk repair is not just occurring in Ann Arbor. Seems many other communties across Metro Detroit are doing the same thing and have been for years.


Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 3:18 p.m.

The total cost of the sidewalk program for the year is $1million. How much was skimmed off for "public art"?


Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 2:19 p.m.

Why is the city charging us a mileage to replace slabs if they're going to horizontally cut them? Where's the money going then? It's a scam. I feel for the people who were forced to replace them while the city says it's ok for them to just shave the slabs. They didn't say the mileage was for some shoddy fake fix. It's a scam so they can save enough money then divert it. Anyone who has had them come through and seen that work knows not only would the homeowner been asked to replace it, a lot of them NEED to be replaced. Horizontal cutting doesn't fix the lip problem at all, because it's such a rush job it just leaves a rim in a different spot; it's square cut, not rounded. I think it might actually be more difficult for wheelchairs to roll over. It's certainly no easier to shovel. And it LOOKS awful. It's off color from the rest of it, look rushed and cheap, like the neighborhood has had damage, still has paint marks, and probably opens it up to more water damage as it cuts off the top layer and exposes the stone in cement foundation. It's in no way proper construction or beautifies Ann Arbor, but it saves the city a buck in a hypocritical way that they wouldn't allow homeowners to save.

Thomas Cook

Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 1:15 p.m.

When the city marked 3 of my sidewalk blocks I, like a fool, rushed to get them fixed - they had less than 1/2" heave at the corners and I had to have them completely replaced, no lifting or grinding allowed. One year later they took out 2 of them and put a handicap ramp that now pools up water in storms (and is a sheet of ice in winter) and left us with a 1ft high concrete wall along half my lot and a ridiculous slope to another corner of my lot. The city owes me $132.50 and a few mower blades.


Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 12:35 p.m.

Funny how "horizontal trimming" wasn't allowed when the homeowners were paying to repair directly. I love how Doan can't get curb cuts right so they just add cold patch to the street edge. What lousy workmanship.

Frank Lee

Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 2:55 p.m.

I'm not sure I follow what you are saying. Asphalt that is in poor condition will crumble at the edge of the road while tearing out old curb. The new curb must have a straight line at the gutter portion where it meets the asphalt. This allows for proper drainage and the ability to maintain the asphalt in the future while leaving the curb intact and a clean transition point. The only option to repair portions of asphalt that crumbled away is with cold patch or to repave the entire street. All workmanship must pass inspection by the city.

Alan Goldsmith

Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 12:30 p.m.

""By horizontally cutting sidewalk that is in otherwise good condition, we can avoid its removal and replacement," said Nick Hutchinson, the city's interim project management unit manager." Another reason taxpayers hate the political leadership in this city. When homeowners were forced to spend their own funds to replace sidewalks, slabs had to be removed and replaced as new. But now that the City has a tax to pay for this, 'horizontally cutting' and saving money is just fine. Why wasn't it before? It's this lack of attention to detail when it comes to City services that should be remembered during the August Democratic Party primary for City Council. I know I will in Ward 4.

Ron Oblander

Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 2:26 p.m.

When I had to replace slabs in years past, I had asked about horizontally cutting sidewalk and was told that wasn't permitted. They said it was unsafe, the cut area was smooth and slippery. And the concrete was weakened??? I guess that's not a problem now??? For those complaining that they paid their own money in the past to fix their sidewalks and don't like paying this new millage, remember you'll probably have to repair your sidewalks in the future and paying this small yearly millage will save you money in the long run. I've had to replace slabs twice in the past because of the city's locust tree roots lifting them. Now I don't have to worry about paying for replacement a third, fourth, etc. times. This millage is worth it.


Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 12:14 p.m.

Each time the city can fix a slab by trimming it, the city will save roughly $164 by not completely replacing it, Hutchinson said. If I ran my household like the city I would be broke. About 5 years ago I paid $110 a slab to REPLACE them. Now the city "saves" $164 by trimming? ONLY because they are paying too much in the first place.


Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 5:15 p.m.

When I asked Councilman Chris Taylor about the report that said it costs the city more to do the repairs and what has changed, his response to me was, "That was before I was elected." Good to know he doesn't do his homework, but still had time to perform for Burns Park this year...


Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 3:52 p.m.

This is why the millage never should have passed. If it's the city doing something, it's usually safe to assume it's costing between 2 and 10 times more than it should. The city's explanation of why they required that residents keep up the sidewalks was that residents could do it at a much lower cost. So what changed for the city to decide to do it? Nothing.


Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 12:07 p.m.

What about the folks who spent their own money years ago to fix sidewalks that the city deemed in need of repair. Many of those families are getting hit twice for this sidewalk repair. And yes, if it is going to sidewalk repair, it shouldn't be used for curb work.


Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 2:25 p.m.

The city had everyone repair their sidewalks up til a certain point when it was "reasonably good". The citizens voted for a millage going forward to spread the costs going forward.

Silly Sally

Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 12:05 p.m.

Five years ago a friend used a big crow bar to level the sidwalk slabs in front of his home and those of his neighbors that were uneven due to tree roots. They were uneven, but not yet broken. This saved the expense of new slabs and more importantly, stopped the city from cutting the roots and then the poor tree growing new roots that will repeat the process. Even if the city were to raise the new sidewalk section by adding sand and saving the roots, both the tree and new sidewald section could live in peace Are we not "tree city"?

Jim Osborn

Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 11:29 a.m.

"The new program spreads the costs across the city's entire tax base." Yet this plan seems to target only certain sections of the city, even after all areas were fixed at homeowner expense. So, the question: Why not repair ALL areas of the city as the need occurs, instead of only some areas? Where I grew up, if there was a problem, after a phone call, it would be fixed within a couple of weeks or so. How are the sidewalks in front of council member's homes?


Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 2:24 p.m.

Why the cynicism? As they outline, they are rolling through the city over the life of the millage, making sure they hit each neighborhood once during the millage period. Plus, as noted at the bottom of the page, you can contact them to report a problem with a slab you find problematic. What more really do you need?


Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 10:48 a.m.

Can you make sure they are disabled friendly?????


Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 10:47 a.m.

1) I don't think it's appropriate to use the sidewalk millage (which I believe was described as a direct transfer of responsibility from resident to city of REPAIRING and/or REPLACING damaged sidewalks) to upgrade ramps or cut n ew ones. That is NOT what that money is for. This will lead to them raising the millage. 2) "Council Member Mike Anglin, D-5th Ward, recalled the city settled a lawsuit a few years ago with a woman in his neighborhood who fell and broke her knee on a city sidewalk. Anglin said he's told that the sidewalk where she fell still hasn't been repaired after three years." Whether or not that lady was a sue-happy slacker, this is indeed ridiculous that the spot of trouble remains unfixed TO THIS DAY. And why is the CITY settling, when back then it was the CITIZEN'S responsibility to address sidewalk issues? Was this on city property? And if it WAS on City property, why is the city not taking care of its own sidewalk when residents were expected to (and were fined by the city if they didn't, right?)?


Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 1:39 p.m.

Sidewalks are considered part of the road and the responsibility to maintain them rests with the municipality that maintains the road. The liability for an injury that results from failing to maintain the walk in reasonable repair rests solely with the municipality. The municipality is unable to transfer that liability onto the adjacent property owner. The municipality can create an obligation upon the property owner to pay for the repairs (and may give the option for the owner to do the repairs themself) but that's viewed as a public duty. However, realize that if a property owner arranges for or does repairs in a negilgent manner (e.g. not to code or to standards) that owner can now find himself liable because the poor workmanship created a hazard. So, sometimes, it's better to just let the City do things. A good case that disusses this is Figueroa v Garden City (1988): It's an older case, but I believe it is still often cited as good law.

Jim Osborn

Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 11:31 a.m.

The money and effort went to painting bicycle lanes instead, but not a center line down Gallup Park