Last month we posted about a new asphalt sidewalk on 15th Ave between 94th St and 97th St. This type of walkway isn’t as good as a standard concrete sidewalk, but it was an improvement that the community requested. According to SDOT spokesperson Rick Sheridan:
Seattle has approximately 12,000 street block faces that lack sidewalks. The number of blocks lacking sidewalks far exceeds the resources available to build them and SDOT only has funding to build approximately 10 to 20 block face equivalents per year.
SDOT looks for ways to maximize the impact of our funds by using less expensive construction materials like asphalt. It is not only less costly, but also can be placed faster than concrete, helping stretch our dollars further.
On 15th Ave NE between NE 94th and NE 97th streets, SDOT addressed the neighborhood’s desire to improve pedestrian accessibility and upgrade drainage infrastructure. We did so with a modest budget by utilizing asphalt for the walkway, and replacing and covering an old drainage culvert. SDOT also separated the roadway from the sidewalk with a landscaping strip, which will deter parking and improve the pedestrian walking environment.
Despite the best intentions, though, you still see problems like this:
SDOT has not provided figures for the cost of an asphalt sidewalk, but construction costs for a standard concrete sidewalk can range from $40,000 to $300,000 per block. It’s likely that the asphalt sidewalk here cost less than half of what a concrete sidewalk would cost.
With so many sidewalks yet to be paved, lower cost installations mean more sidewalks get built faster. But would it be better not to spend anything than to spend on an asphalt sidewalk / parking strip? Is the new sidewalk better than what was there before, or is it a waste of funds?
What do you think?