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Grind It. Cut It. Fix It. Sidewalk Repair

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Month: October, 2007

Who actually does the Grinding?

28 October, 2007 (17:34) | Business Opportunity, General | By: sidewalker

The answer to this question varies according to the type of property, the local ordinances, the type and severity of damage to the sidewalks, and according to the availability of Contractors who are willing to do the work. There are certainly some jobs that are not up to the minimum threshold of the jobs that local contractors are willing to do. Perhaps the best situation is where a contractor is going to be replacing several blocks so that the home-owner can award the job to the Contractor who is willing to do the additional minor defect areas at the same time for a nominal additional fee.

Concrete Contractors:

The Grinding operations are being performed by Contractors who see the Grinding operation as a kind of “Clean Up” operation to make the new sections they install blend in with and flow smoothly into the existing sidewalk panels.  Contractors also use the Grinding operation as a method to win the jobs by offering a Hybrid Repair that incorporates replacement where absolutely necessary and grinding where appropriate. 

Maintenance Departments:

Many public and private institutions have “in-house” maintenance departments to do the actual work. A Hotel Chain or shopping center could easily justify having the complete sets of Sidewalk Savers equipment on their Trucks or in their workshops. Hospitals, schools, Parks on the city, state, National level, Office Parks, even the local Law offices who want to protect themselves from themselves, all have a need to be prepared to take corrective actions to maintain their property as a safe hazard free environment.

DIY Homeowners:

There are many cases where home owners or small businesses have relatively slight stub-toe trip-hazards that need to be addressed but which do not represent enough business to attract contractors who are unable to justify the cost of setting up their equipment for the relatively small amount of work.

Sidewalk Saver Entrepreneurs:

More recently, there have been increases in people who see the Sidewalk Saver Procedures as business opportunities to fill a void where none of the above seems to fit. Regardless of the category or the goals of the particular group, the need is huge. It is spread all over the country. It will continue to need to be done wherever trees grow or freeze-thaw conditions exist or wherever ground settles. And, best of all, the workpieces can never be shipped off shore to have the grinding operations performed.

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To Permit or Not to Permit? That is the question.

28 October, 2007 (17:23) | City Sidewalk Requirements., City Sidewalk Resources | By: sidewalker

Several different approaches have been adopted by differing cities with slightly different objectives. All of the cities would like to have safe sidewalks for their citizens. That is without question. But, their approaches can be significantly different.

For example, Rochester, MN has a policy stated at their web site that encourages sidewalk maintenance with no permit Fees being collected when applying to the city for a permit.

http://www.rochestermn.gov/departments/publicworks/sidewalks/sidewalkfaqs.asp

<<“Who gets the permit?
The person/contractor doing the work obtains the permit. If a contractor is hired, they must obtain the permit. If the property owner will do the work themselves, they must obtain the permit. Permits are obtained ….(from)…, Public Works at no cost. All that is needed is the address of the property and the name of the person or contractor conducting the sidewalk replacement. Permits will normally be issued while you wait.

<<“ Is grinding permitted?
Grinding is not recommended as a sidewalk replacement/repair process by the city. However, the city does not prohibit the practice with the following limitations:

·      Only panels that are raised may be ground and the limit of grinding is a maximum of 3/4” and the grinding must be adequately long across the panel. Grinding a good panel to align with a settled panel is prohibited.

·      Grinding is at the property owner’s risk. If unsuccessful, the sidewalk must be replaced.

·       No city warrantee applies to ground panels.

·      No permits or licenses are needed for grinding, however, the property owner must receive an inspection by Public Works to comply with the sidewalk replacement notice/order.

·      Since there are no written city standards for sidewalk grinding, approval of the acceptability of sidewalk grinding results is solely at the discretion of the Public Works.”>>

Other cities may focus more on “Control” and collecting Permit Fees so that, while their intentions are good, the net result may actually be that property owners do nothing rather than asking their city for permission to maintain their sidewalks. This would be one of those unintended consequences, namely preserving unsafe sidewalks rather than promoting safe procedures to assure safe passage for citizens and visitors alike.

It is advisable to check the local city officials to see what their position is concerning necessary permits and application fees required for sidewalk grinding prior to starting the job.

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Mid West Cities move to make sidewalks safe !

28 October, 2007 (17:06) | General, Liability Avoidance, Safety | By: sidewalker

Mid west USA Cities are increasingly following the West Coast offense and implimenting the Diamond Cup grinding solution for maintaining their sidewalks.   The benefits to homeowners are obviously lower costs and the availability of a mid term solution to a problem that they are made aware of each time they shovel snow or simply walk on their own sidewalk.    Most responsible homeowners would minimize the trip hazard if only they had a low cost, convenient method for doing so.

Now, by applying the methods used for many years in California and cities like Portland, Oregon,  mid-west cities such as Columbus, OH have approved this process for at least some of the observed problems.

The benefits to cities and neighborhoods are the elimination of problems while they are small by simple periodic grinding.  Some politicians refer to this as the “Broken Window” theory – take care of the small problems and the big problems will take care of themselves.

Even the relatively steep step shown below can be made safer with a grinding operation on the left side of the raised block, although this would clearly be a temporary solution as the codes and procedures in many cities would require blocks such as these to be removed and replaced.

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The Sidewalk below shows multiple trip hazards caused by a single, relatively small  tree.  In order to repair this type of a hazard, the costs would be the replacement costs for 3 perfectly good concrete sidewalk blocks.     Of course, the tree will keep growing so that in 2 or 3 years the new blocks would need to be replaced again.

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Rather than waiting for the problem to get worse over time, diamond cup grinding for these blocks would require a minimal amount of work and would eliminate the Stub-Toe Trip Hazard liability for a fraction of the costs, providing a temporary reprieve for the same 2 – 3 years when additional grinding could perhaps be used or not, according to conditions and local codes.

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