Saturday, August 09 2008 @ 02:36 PM UTC
Contributed by: B' Spokes
Mayor Sheila Dixon kicks off Baltimore's new sidewalk improvement campaign, called "Sidewalk Sam." The mayor stands on sidewalk poured yesterday as she uses a hand float to smooth freshly poured cement in the 1200 block of S. Clinton St. (Sun photo by Kim Hairston / July 31, 2008)
Hoping to clear a waiting list for sidewalk repairs that stretches back four years, Baltimore officials said today they will focus more attention - and an additional $2 million - on smoothing the way for foot traffic.
City transportation contractors will increase by two-thirds the number of sidewalk repairs completed in the city in this year, resurfacing nearly 650,000 square feet of cracked, washed out and uneven walkways.
"We get a lot of service calls for our sidewalks and our streets," Mayor Sheila Dixon said yesterday. "Some people think that we only drive cars in this city. But more and more people are walking."
Dixon's push on the sidewalks comes a year after the city Department of Transportation increased its budget for road improvements by about 70 percent - an effort paid for largely with bonds - and added more than 20 miles of bike lanes.
Baltimore plans to resurface 200 lane-miles of streets this year, a slight increase over last year and more than double what was paved in 2006, Dixon has said.
City Councilman James B. Kraft, who represents Southeast Baltimore, said fixing up sidewalks is a small thing the city can do to improve quality of life and make neighborhoods more attractive to pedestrians.
Dixon pointed to a recent ranking by a Seattle-based Web site called Walk Score that deemed Baltimore the 12th-most-walkable city in the country. The site noted Federal Hill, Fells Point and the Inner Harbor as particularly walkable.
"People look in neighborhoods. They see how they are, they see how they feel," Kraft said. "When they're clean and green, people want to stay there. They want to move there."