Five Ways to Save
Cart-Away Concrete Systems has supported sidewalk repair and restoration projects for over 20-years. Cart-away manufactures portable concrete mixing trailers that are sized for these types of concrete projects. Over time we have interview many of the city leaders who have chosen a Cart-Away system to manage their sidewalk repairs. The following are 5 Best Practices in efficiently managing a sidewalk program:
#1 Standard Operating Procedures
The purpose of a sidewalk, curb and gutter maintenance policy and SOP is to protect the general public from hazards, protect the City from liability, manage public infrastructure and to protect the city’s investment in these assets. The Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) should include the following sections:
- Safety Precautions
- Include Background
- Include Maintenance Plans
- Include Removal and Repair Steps
- Identify Emergency Repair Steps
- Include Background
- Public Interactions
- Receiving and Recording Complaints
- Prioritizing Explanations
- Database and Records
#2 Create Priority System
All potential repairs should be identified, evaluated or scored by priority. The two variables for concrete repair ranking are: One, the severity of the damage and two, the importance of the location or the asset.
Severity usually is scored based upon the magnitude of the damage. Importance is usually gauged by location and the demographics of the users in that area. It is not uncommon for school zones, retirement communities and hospital areas to receive a higher priority than a single-family neighborhood. Likewise, a 4″ up-lift should be given priority over some seasonal cracking.
#3 Training and Tools
Finding ways to train the field staff should be a priority for any organization. It is particularly important when crews are working in potentially hazardous locations were traffic or utilities could cause harm. Work is completed more efficiently when both the equipment and the procedures are fully understood and familiar. Use bad weather days to complete some of the training and then keep up with a continuing education program of some sort.
Providing the tools and equipment to efficiently make repairs is critical to meeting the objectives of most community leaders. All operational instructions and safety warnings should be shared during training. Equipment should remain in good working order and readily available to work crews. Short-changing the field staff due to budgetary constraints is many times short-sighted.
#4 Prevent Recurrence
If you have taken the time to rank, schedule and do the repairs, then preventing the problem from coming back should be a high priority. In sidewalk repair this usually means taking care of the root causes of the problem. Many times it is literally the roots of a nearby tree that is the cause. But it could also mean poor installation or materials. You should pay attention to the fundamentals of concrete slab construction and use good compaction with quality gravel. In addition, using the appropriate concrete recipe can make a big difference. Some regions can get by with a 2500 psi concrete for sidewalks, but more extreme climates may require up to 4000 psi. and some additives to resist degradation. The best practice is to not cut corners and do it right the first time.
#5 Public Awareness
In most cases the property owner is a partner with the city in maintaining the sidewalk assets. Sadly, this often turns into an adversarial relationship with finger pointing and bad feelings. Most communities that we interviewed suggest that getting the word out and keeping the public well informed is the key to success. Make sure that all parties understand their individual responsibility in keeping sidewalks safe and passable. It is also important to teach the city staff to be sensitive to the fact that sidewalk repair is not a “front-of-mind” issue to property owners, like it is to the city. The best practice is to share more details rather than less.
Cart-Away would like to thank the many city and county public works and streets superintendents who shared their work with us. We shared these in a presentation to the Maintenance Superintendents Association (MSA) in Berkeley California. Their thoughts and ideas have informed these 5 best practices, and we recommend their advise to all municipality leaders.