Repairs Delayed After Thousands of City Sidewalk Complaints

In the last year, residents submitted 10,549 sidewalk repair requests

The Chicago Department of Transportation is knee deep in sidewalk repair requests and many complaining residents are waiting months or more than a year for relief, according to information obtained through an NBC 5 Investigates Freedom of Information Act request.

Residents can use the city’s 311 hotline and website to report damaged sidewalks. Between March 2013 and March 2014, they submitted 10,549 sidewalk repair requests. Some of the requests are considered “duplicates”, according to a city spokesperson.

But it appears many of the most complained-about sidewalks are still in disrepair.

NBC 5 Investigates teamed with students from DePaul University who run the Chicago Stumbler, a website that documents poor sidewalk conditions across the city, to visit twenty-one sidewalks that each had multiple 311 submissions. Many of the requests occurred over the span of several months.

Seventeen of the twenty-one sidewalks appeared to still be in need of repair.

“It’s just interesting to know which ones have and have not been filled,” senior Emily Rosen said.

Alderman Tom Tunney told NBC 5 Investigates in March that a sidewalk repair request submitted through 311 “could take years”.

CDOT said it sends inspectors to investigate every sidewalk request to determine if it needs repair. The department then puts the planned repair work into one of these categories: shared-cost sidewalk program, in-house construction repair or a part of a larger aldermanic infrastructure menu project.

According to CDOT, crews repaired 1.15 million square feet of sidewalks, or 160 blocks, in 2013. CDOT said it also installed 8,966 new ADA sidewalk ramps, repaired 140 vaulted sidewalks and grinded 1,455 sidewalks.

William Teichert said he reported a metal obstruction in the sidewalk near a Blue Line exit on Jackson late last year.

“They could hurt themselves and end up suing the city,” Teichert said.

A CDOT spokesperson told NBC 5 Investigates inspectors would check out the location in question.

An NBC 5 Investigates report in March revealed taxpayers spent nearly $6 million settling slip and fall lawsuits against the City of Chicago over the last six years. The city said it takes its duty to maintain sidewalks in reasonably safe condition seriously.

(Note: In the document above, the status "Completed" refers to a sidewalk that has been inspected by the city.  It does not necessarily mean a sidewalk has been repaired.)

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