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City sidewalks getting spring spruce-up

Do you notice those bad sidewalks across the City of Buffalo? Well, so does City Hall.

Officials say they can't fix them all bad sidewalks this year, but Mayor Byron Brown says he is spending just over $6 million in 2017 to replace sections of sidewalk.

"We will be spending about $6.1 million on sidewalks," Brown says. "Not only sidewalks, we'll be doing the ADA ramps making sure there is accessibility for disabled members of our community so that they have mobility also in the City of Buffalo."

Wednesday, he showed off concrete being poured on Brinkman Street in the Lovejoy area, while other concrete was flowing in North and South Buffalo.

Lovejoy Councilmember Richard Fontana says the Brinkman spruce up is part of major work in his district, improving the community.

"We're actually going lot by lot, seeing what needs to be replaced, leaving it a nicer looking place and that's what we're going to be doing," Fontana says. "We're also going to be going into some of the yards in the next couple of days on Brinkman and Sumner and Keystone and cleaning up some of these yards. They're just actually a mess in some situations and nobody should have to live next to that type of situation. So, the city's here. We're working hard. We're working together. We're just trying to make it a much nicer place to live."

Fontana says in recent years, there has been a lot of investment in Lovejoy, including construction of 32 new homes near the sidewalk work.

Mayor Brown says street work will start in two weeks, now that asphalt plants have opened for the summer season. Public Works Commissioner Steven Stepniak says sidewalks last a long time, but not forever.

"There're areas that have sidewalks that go back 50, 60, 70 years without incident. It's based on tree growth and volume in those areas," Stepniak says. "Also when we have major construction, like demo work that occurs, it actually speeds up that process that we have to. I would say these sidewalks were in place for about 40 years, I believe. Most of them are in pretty good shape, except for where the tree root damage gets them or where construction ends up damaging them."

In very recent years, there have been problems with sidewalks wrecked during demolition projects. Brown says the city has cracked down on that and inspects every demolition to ensure contractors do not put sidewalks on a quick path to useless because damaged sidewalks can be dangerous.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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