Sunday, December 11, 2011

Those New City Sidewalks? Gosh--They Sure Don't Look Like a Million Dollars

Our new, seven-figure sidewalks after just a few months of use.

We had new sidewalks installed in downtown Los Altos this past summer--which surprised a lot of people since we had new sidewalks installed just ten years ago and the ones we had looked really nice.

Some of the stone benches even had wonderful tromp l'oeil paintings on them by acclaimed local artist Jan Meyer.  Looking at these new one--I sure miss the old.

The new ones? Well, the faux stone "pavers" in the sidewalks, "bump outs" and zebra crossings seem to be absorbing every bit of car oil, spilled coffee, ice cream and every other kind of whatzzit people drop on sidewalks and crosswalks as they drive and walk around our downtown.

New zebra crossing at Second and State.

I recall having a conversation with an executive at Walt Disney World's Epcot once, over a similar issue at Epcot's French pavilion.  He told me Disney Imagineering had learned not to use absorbent "pavers," because they so easily turn filthy looking.

This is Los Altos, not Epcot. Epcot couldn't afford to have its attractions look like this.

"They stain like crazy," he told me.  "And the only thing that cleans them is to pressure wash them with acid."

And that, as he pointed out, is challenging when you have thousands of people walking all over them every day.

Kind of like you might have in the downtown of a city?

New State Street sidewalk at "bump out."

I sure hope, after all the aggravation we experienced from this seven-figure change to our ten-year-old sidewalks, we haven't been stuck with the "absorbs dirt like a sponge and has to be washed with acid" pavers.

They look really bad right now.

"Pavers" and new planter/bench on State.

Our City Council insisted on this change and took a great deal of flak from surprised taxpayers for the big disruption and expense, so I suspect they will have a solution on hand to the glaring ugliness we see around us now. 

The construction still isn't finished and won't be until long after the Christmas shopping season is over.

Having the new work look seedy before the other streets are even completed is what you might call a bad omen for the future.

First Street isn't expected to open for several more months. It is the main route through Los Altos.

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Don Meuler said...

This kind of thing happens in cities and towns all over. In my little town, every few years the powers that be decide to reverse the directions of the one-way streets "to improve traffic flow." Corner jut-outs are removed and replaced, roads re-striped, parking meters moved, etc. Traffic then knots up worse than it was for a time, but when it returns to its previous flow they announce "Mission accomplished." Until next time.

Robin Chapman said...

Sadly, this is the weakness in our self government in a wealthy country with very little oversight of the way our tax dollars are spent/wasted at every level.

Imagine how the waste must grow exponentially up to the federal level? It boggles the mind, and is, at present, catching up with all of us.

Not exactly the "excellent government of our own choosing" George Washington applauded in his diary on July 5, 1797.