The $2 Billion Sidewalk Problem in Dallas

Officials discuss ways to make more progress on Dallas sidewalk problems

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Dallas has a $2 billion backlog of crumbling or missing sidewalks but only about $15 million in this year’s budget to start tackling the problem.

Dallas city council members heard a briefing on the sidewalk challenge this week and one member suggested asking charities to help chip in more money.

Consultants were hired to prepare the sidewalk master plan that identifies the problems and guides improvement.

An example of the situation is the neighborhood east of Central Expressway near Lemmon Avenue where Courtney Wade walks her dog.

“And I'm always tripping, just kind of stubbing my toe on the wedges in them. There's a lot of potholes in them,” she said.

The area is booming with many new homes being constructed.

Homebuilder John Marasli also lives in the neighborhood.

He is responsible for replacing sidewalks in front of his new homes but that leaves plenty of other areas that are the city’s responsibility.

“Everybody moving in just wants to have a safe environment that they can walk their dogs, and run around whatever,” he said.

That neighborhood is one of 12 focus areas that will split the $15 million available for sidewalks in Dallas in this year’s budget that took effect October 1.

In his State of the City speech Wednesday, Mayor Eric Johnson said Dallas must focus on basic services to better compete with the suburbs for people and jobs.

“The cities that we used to call our bedroom communities have caught us napping over the years,” Johnson said.

The City Council discussed sidewalks at a briefing Tuesday.

“We can't be a walkable city when we don't have sidewalks that are functioning for people,” Council Member Cara Mendelsohn said.

City staff members said sidewalks could get a bigger piece of the pie in the next public improvement bond referendum a few years from now.

Councilman Chad West suggested raising much more money for sidewalks by asking charity groups to help.

“We go to our philanthropic partners, our foundations. We basically do what has been done in homelessness to try to double our money,” West said.

Builder John Marasli said better sidewalks would boost his neighborhood.

“It would definitely help the community,” he said.

Courtney Wade said it would make dog walking safer, especially at night when heaving sidewalk joints are hard to see.

“I think that would help out a lot,” she said.

A briefing document Tuesday gave a small update on the sidewalk efforts.

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