Joliet eyes new approach to sidewalk repairs

City to spend $700,000 on sidewalk repairs in 2024

A crew member cleans off the sidewalk after working along Earl Avenue on Tuesday, June 20, 2023 in Joliet.

The city may take a new approach to sidewalk repairs in 2024.

Joliet is considering greater use of sidewalk grinding to level uneven sidewalks, potentially saving time and money on a job that could be reduced from a matter of days to less than an hour.

The city also is eyeing a pilot program in which it would repair sidewalks by neighborhoods at a time instead of making fixes in scattered spots around the city.

Joliet has budgeted $700,000 for sidewalk repairs in 2024, about double what the city was spending on an annual basis from 2018 to 2020. The city, however, has increased sidewalk repairs in recent years and is spending about $1.1 million this year.

Sidewalk complaints are among the top concerns phoned in to council members.

“I get a lot of calls, and I know other council members get them as well,” council member Joe Clement said Tuesday. “I think it’s time that the city step up and address these sidewalks.”

Councilman Joe Clement speaks out against the grant money  Joliet Township board applied for to help asylum seekers without the city of Joliet’s knowledge at the Joliet City Council Meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023.

Clement earlier this year encouraged city staff to explore use of a grinder to quicken the pace at which uneven sidewalks can be fixed. He witnessed a demonstration recently outside City Hall that showed the grinder at work.

“I’m excited to move forward,” Clement said.

Public Works Director Greg Ruddy showed video of the grinder demonstration at a City Council meeting last week.

“With this new process, we feel we can get more bang for the buck,” Ruddy told the council. “We feel we can get more sidewalks addressed than we have in the past.”

Grinding a sidewalk square can be done in a half-hour, while replacing a square – which includes allowing the new concrete to cure – can take up to a week, Ruddy said.

The Public Service Committee also is eyeing a pilot program in which Joliet would begin targeting sidewalk repairs by neighborhood instead of tackling problems one at a time around the city.

“We could take a look at a whole neighborhood and – say we have 50 deficiencies – address the whole neighborhood,” Ruddy said.

Gregory Ruddy, Director Of Public Works at City of Joliet, speaks at Monday’s Public Service Committee Meeting on December 5th.

The neighborhood analysis would involve hiring a company to look for sidewalk problems, a cost now being reviewed.

The proposed pilot program involves four area of the city:

  • an east side area bounded by 4th Avenue, Eastern Avenue, Union Street and 2nd Avenue
  • an east side area bounded by Williamson Avenue, Collins Street, Cleveland Avenue and Henderson Avenue
  • a west side area bounded by Marion Street, Raynor Avenue, Morgan Street and Park Drive
  • a southwest section of the west side Cambridge subdivision off Houbolt Road