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Midtown Alliance, city to construction crews: Here’s how not to ruin streets, sidewalks

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Atlanta already has a big enough problem with its pedestrian infrastructure

If only some major pizza delivery company would come fix Atlanta’s busted sidewalks in the same way Domino’s started filling potholes in other cities.

Alas, that’s unlikely. But hope is not totally lost for all of the city’s problematic pedestrian infrastructure, thanks to efforts being put forth by the Midtown Alliance and City of Atlanta.

A recent boom in fiberoptic internet options in Atlanta has led to an uptick in streets and sidewalks being chewed up to make way for their cable networks.

But according to Midtown Alliance officials, many construction crews seem to have trouble returning those roads and walkways back to their original condition after cutting into them to lay the wires.

Earlier this year, the City of Atlanta imposed a two-week moratorium on dig work, allowing “much of the sidewalk restoration to catch up to the boom in construction,” Midtown Alliance reported.

But, of course, with Atlanta’s already severe backlog of sidewalk and street fixes, there’s still a lot more catching up to do. (A group of wheelchair users even lodged a class-action lawsuit against the city this past summer, claiming its sidewalks are dangerous and in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act).

So Midtown Alliance, with help from the city, is working to educate contractor crews on how to properly repair gutted sidewalks and streets in the neighborhood. And they’re even providing visuals.

Red, bad; green, better.
Midtown Alliance

So what’s the root cause of the issues?

Per a Midtown Alliance announcement, “City code requires permits and follow-up inspections for this type of work, but the large volume of permitted projects led to stretched city oversight and, with it, negligent repair work.”

Midtown Green Project Manager Kyle Guess first noticed the increase in “disruptive, fiber-related construction” in Midtown about two years ago, noting that sometimes an internet service provider will come and tear through concrete that another company had just repaired, leaving serious scarring on the neighborhood’s roads and walkways.

“Midtown is one of the fastest-growing centers for technology and innovation,” said Guess, according to Midtown Alliance. “While new development and infrastructure are exciting, it’s our job to make sure that everyday projects like sidewalk repairs and street restoration aren’t getting overlooked.”

a picture of a busted and a fixed sidewalk Midtown Alliance

This year alone, almost 40 permits have been filed by communications companies looking to affect the public right of way in the Midtown Improvement District.

“By teaming up with the city’s Department of Public Works,” said Guess, “we’re able to open the lines of communication with utility and construction companies and work to hold the right people accountable for the fixes.”

Midtown Green, which is cataloging infractions, urges Atlantans who see damaged streets or sidewalks that aren’t construction sites to dial 311—or the use the ATL311 mobile app—to alert the Department of Public Works and the Department of Watershed Management.