Crackin’ Up is Easy to Do

The City lays new sidewalks during road reconstructions. They are supposed to last many decades. I notice they do not.

Every pedestrian walking the City knows that many sidewalk squares get cracked, heaved, or otherwise broken. Sometimes the squares are too big: when the portion of Somerset between Lyon and Percy was done years ago, the sidewalk squares were huge, and by the first spring half of them had cracked. They were replaced by the contractor, but don’t think that cost wasn’t borne by the taxpayer somewhere, somehow.

The City avoids putting rebars or reinforcing wire mesh into the sidewalks to save on cost. I am not aware that they use thin asphalt on streets to save on cost… in fact, streets themselves seem pretty damn sturdy. I expect engineers figure the carrying load on the sidewalk as being people, with the occasional service truck or snowplow.

But increasingly, I see Hydro Ottawa person-lift trucks (“cherry pickers”) parked on sidewalks, fire engines, and delivery trucks, often really big ones. And during snow clearing, the City feels free to run graders, front end loaders, dump trucks and other heavy equipment on the sidewalks.

The pic is of the two year old sidewalk on Preston right after snow removal. Is it a coincidence that a row of dump trucks parked on the sidewalk? The cracks are brand new, fresh and sharp, not yet filled with sand or salt.  The sidewalk was new too, but now it looks much less so. Thus starts the cycle of water penetration, freeze-thaw lifting, deterioration, and crumbling infrastructure. There were two cracks like the one shown, one in each block.

4 thoughts on “Crackin’ Up is Easy to Do

  1. Eric, this is on my block, so I have noticed them for a while. They have been around for at least a month.
    I don’t think these are caused by big trucks parking on them. It looks to me that the ground under the sidewalks here has settled a bit. This should have been dealt with at the time of construction.
    If only there was a desire at City Hall, from the workers to the planners and politicians, to do the job right the first time, instead of everyone focusing on their own little area, and not seeing the larger picture.

  2. Yeah Matthew, the pic is several weeks old, I just never got around to using it. They did appear though the morning after the snow removal from Preston, and the evening before there were about six giant dump trucks parked on sidewalk to allow motorists to go by; plus the grader ran his tires along the sidewalk, I watched them do it. I dont think it is settling at all.
    thanks for writing,

  3. I use to work construction that type of crack is caused by either improperly mixed concrete or there is a insufficent amount of base material underneath. My guess would be the later.

  4. The snow trucks and graders certainly would have hastened the cracking process started by faulty construction.
    I need to parge a bit of foundation at the back of my house in the summer. if I have half a bucket leftover I might try to seal the crack in front of my place.
    Hopefully a retired masonry expert will take pity on me and come and do a good job.

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