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CBS4 Investigation: City Needs To Repair Its Own Substandard Sidewalks

By Brian Maass

DENVER (CBS4)- As the City of Denver begins cracking down on substandard sidewalks, forcing property owners to repair their hazardous sidewalks, a CBS4 Investigation finds many sidewalks overseen and administered by the city itself are dilapidated, in disrepair and in need of replacement.

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"I think we clearly recognize the city has work to do as well," said Nancy Kuhn of Denver's Public Works Department, after CBS4 showed her pictures of city administered sidewalks that were buckling and cracking. "So just as we are asking homeowners to address it, we are also going to address our own."

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A new sidewalk repair program began in August with a city inspector walking the city. If the inspector finds hazardous sidewalks, property owners are notified it is their financial responsibility to get them fixed. Repairs can cost hundreds, or in some cases, thousands of dollars.

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CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass interviews Nancy Kuhn (credit: CBS)

So, CBS4 took a look at sidewalks that are on city property and found many substandard stretches in need of repair. A flagstone sidewalk bordering the southern edge of Denver's City Park has numerous slabs that are bowing and buckling. Sidewalks around other city parks and recreation facilities, like Washington Park, also appeared to be hazardous and could cause pedestrians to trip and fall.

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Kuhn agreed saying,"We are going to fix sidewalks adjacent to city property that also need repair."

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Denver City Councilman Paul Kashmann, who is supportive of the city sidewalk repair program, viewed some of the city sidewalks identified by CBS4 as being problematic.

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CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass interviews Paul Kashmann (credit: CBS)

He called one section "unsatisfactory." Another he termed "a mess." He said they should all be fixed and government should be held to the same standard that it's holding property owners to.

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"I would certainly hope so. We need to do the same thing we are asking our homeowners to do."

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It's unclear at this point how much the city might end up paying to repair its own problem sidewalks. But Kashmann said "Repairing our sidewalks will be an expensive process, no question."

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He suggested a full fix of city sidewalks would take decades and hundreds of millions of dollars.

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He said over the years his office has received numerous comments from citizens complaining about tripping over deteriorating sidewalks.

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Kuhn said in an average year the city receives approximately 20 complaints about hazardous sidewalks.

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"I think we clearly, clearly recognize the city has work to do as well," said Kuhn.

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(credit: CBS)

CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass has been with the station more than 30 years uncovering waste, fraud and corruption. Follow him on Twitter @Briancbs4.

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