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Return to: 2011 Feature Stories

American City & CountyCLIENT: VANDERHAWK CONSULTING

May 1, 2011: American City & County

Where the Sidewalk Ends: City Targets Broken Links in Sidewalk Network to Improve Infrastructure

City targets broken links in sidewalk network to improve infrastructure

Early this year, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., conducted a sidewalk inventory as a first step in resolving safety concerns along roads and to help plan infrastructure projects to improve community walkability. The inventory was conducted using aerial imagery, GIS data and on-site visits to document missing sidewalk links and obstacles in rights-of-way.

Located in western San Bernardino County about 40 miles east of Los Angeles, the Rancho Cucamonga area grew rapidly and uncontrolled in the 1970s, as families moved there seeking affordable housing near Los Angeles and Orange County. Concerned about managing development, residents incorporated in November 1977 and since have been setting construction standards and rectifying problems with earlier construction.

Among those problems are missing sidewalks. "Prior to incorporation, being a rural area, development did not always trigger a requirement for sidewalks," says Associate Engineer Walt Stickney. "Now, being nearly built out, these segments of missing sidewalk are a high priority to the city."

In fall 2010, the city contracted with Carlsbad, Calif.-based VanderHawk Consulting to conduct the sidewalk inventory and analyze network-wide coverage. They started by using a 2009 aerial orthographic photo to identify sidewalk locations, but some segments were not visible because of resolution quality or tree canopies. Shrubs and fences also made it challenging to determine if a sidewalk was present. So, field spot checks were performed to fill in the blanks and clarify obstacles.

A map was created of the sidewalk network with different color segments indicating sidewalk surfaces and missing links. Other sidewalk-related data also was analyzed, including street light presence; bus stop locations; and proximity to hospitals, libraries, schools, senior centers and shopping centers.

The city is setting priorities based on the sidewalk inventory, focusing first on high-pedestrian zones and coordinating work with other infrastructure projects. A sidewalk installation program report will include a segment-by-segment breakdown of installation costs and summarized data based on factors such as priority ranking, maintenance zone and proposed year of installation.

"The realities of the budget process results in these construction projects being a multi-year program," Stickney says. "With this inventory, the quantity of missing sidewalks will only be reduced over time."

Project: Sidewalk inventory program
Jurisdiction: Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
Agency: Engineering Services, GIS Department
Contractor: Carlsbad, Calif.-based VanderHawk Consulting, LLC
Expected completion: May 2011
Cost: $50,000

Return to: 2011 Feature Stories