Not all sidewalks are created equal. Explore the options for constructing sidewalks that are built to last.
Sidewalks are an important part of any neighborhood or community. They give pedestrians a safe option for traveling and exercising without being in the way of traffic. However, sidewalks are only useful if they are in good repair; sidewalks that are cracked, shifting, or have poor drainage pose their own set of dangers to pedestrians. When sidewalks are being built, it is important to do so with an eye towards quality and longevity. Explore those factors that lead to quality, long-lasting sidewalks that serve a community for many years to come.
Factors to Consider for Long-Lasting Quality Sidewalks
The following factors are key when constructing sidewalks that live up to the average projected lifespan of 25 years.
- Subgrade. Studies have shown that the soil under a sidewalk is likely one of the greatest determinants of sidewalk quality and longevity. Installing an adequate subgrade can improve drainage, offer stability, and help the pavement of the sidewalk to withstand changes in the weather. There should be an adequate amount of free-draining granular material as a base material that is uniform and compacted to the area’s recommended specifications.
- Concrete thickness. The thickness of the sidewalk needs to be adequate enough to support vehicles that might need to be on the sidewalks, such as passing over driveways or doing utility work. The thickness required will be determined by the area’s soil, the subgrade material used, temperature extremes, and the presence of tree roots.
- Drainage. Sidewalks should be installed with a maximum cross slope of 2% to maintain drainage to keep water and ice off the surface of the sidewalk.
- Control joints. It’s important to utilize control and expansion joints in concrete sidewalks to reduce cracking. Additionally, full depth expansion joints should be placed adjacent to rigid structures like poles, walls, fire hydrants, and buildings.\
- Trees. For already existing trees, it’s important to add gravel sub-base under sidewalks near trees and to install vertical barriers next to sidewalks to deter roots from growing under the sidewalk and causing lifting and cracking.