Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced that as part of his 2019 proposed budget, the City of Chicago will expand its Shared Cost Sidewalk Program, increasing funding by $1 million to meet the high demand for the popular program through which the City subsidizes part of the cost of fixing homeowner’s sidewalks. The new expansion follows a $500,000 increase in funding for the program in 2017.
“As the Shared Cost Sidewalk Program continues to grow in popularity, we need to devote more resources to meet the demand and make it possible for more residents to benefit,” Mayor Emanuel said. “This is an investment that will ensure a program that makes our neighborhoods safer, more accessible and more beautiful continues to grow.”
The Shared Cost Sidewalk Program run by the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) is a popular voluntary program which has helped cover the cost of sidewalk repairs for an average of 840 property owners annually over the last five years. Under the Mayor’s proposed budget, funding for the program will be increased by $1 million, from $3 million to $4 million per year. The increased funding will allow an estimated 315 more property owners to take advantage of the program, which provides sidewalk repairs at a reduced cost.
“Thanks to the Shared Cost Sidewalk Program, hundreds of residents throughout Chicago have been able to improve the safety and accessibility of their walkways ever year,” Alderman Laurino said. “Now with this new investment, even more neighborhoods and communities will be able to work with city officials to enjoy the quality of life every Chicagoan deserves.”
The program accepts applications on a first-come, first-served basis through the City’s 311 system at the beginning of each year and usually it reaches full capacity within one or two days. Close to 2,000 property owners apply each year.
The cost per square foot charged to property owners is well below what a private contractor would charge. Senior citizens and persons with disabilities may qualify to receive a 50 percent discount. The cost to a property owner of an average mid-block property generally ranges from $800 to $1,500 depending on the extent of the work.
Once an application is submitted, CDOT engineers conduct sidewalk condition surveys. The subsidy is only available for sections of sidewalk that are determined to be in poor condition. The engineers calculate the proposed cost and send it in an invoice to the property owner. Property owners then have 45 days to accept the proposed cost and agree to participate in the program. Last year, about 40% of the property owners whose sidewalks were approved for the program agreed to participate.