Walking Hazards: Funding an issue for city sidewalks in disrepair
NASHUA – As they age, many of the sidewalks around Nashua are falling into disrepair. While city officials are aware of the issue, the problem persists due to a lack of available funding.
City leaders can draw money from three sources to fund sidewalk repairs:
• The general operating budget for the Division of Public Works,
• Money placed in quadrant funds by developers allocated for work in specific sections of the city, or
• From capital given to the division by the office of Mayor Jim Donchess.
Even with three funding sources from which to draw, division spokeswoman Lauren Byers said the department doesn’t have nearly enough funding for sidewalks.
“The city is responsible for the sidewalks. We realize that there are a lot of sidewalks in need of repairs and replacement, but we don’t have enough money,” Byers said.
One instance is obvious on the sidewalk across from Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park, located on Ledge Street between Seventh and Eighth streets. A section of the walkway has sunken in areas so that parts are now below the level of the road.
While residents express their concerns regarding the condition of city sidewalks, Byers said the need money needed for repairs is far more than the available funding. This forces city workers to repair, install and maintain the sidewalks on a “needs” basis.
As they remain aware, DPW officials have devised a system to help them fix the more pressing problems regarding the road sidewalks.
“What we did last year was we ranked them, like we did with the roads, so that we had an idea of an order when we do have money to repair and add sidewalks. The list is long,” Byers said referencing a system similar to the paving condition index the division uses to rank roads.
Taking into consideration the greatest needs, Byers said department officials have to make decisions when deciding how to use the limited funds. While considering all factors, Byers said decisions are made on an individual basis.
“Repairs are very important, but there are certain places, that are high pedestrian areas, where putting a sidewalk in might be needed before making a repair,” Byers added.