New Sidewalks FAQ

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Q. Who pays for new sidewalks (e.g., installing pedestrian walkways in the public right of way where no sidewalks currently exist) in Ann Arbor?

A: By City Code, first-time construction costs for new sidewalks are assessed to the property owners abutting the sidewalk area. 

Q. Are there other sources of funding available to pay for new sidewalks?

A: In some situations, federal or state funds may be available for construction of new sidewalks. These potential sites are typically located along a main transportation route. The City seeks federal and state grants when possible, however their availability is limited and use must meet strict requirements. These funds also do not cover the full cost to design and construct a new sidewalk.

Q. Is Ann Arbor's Street, Bridge, and Sidewalk Millage a possible source of funding for new sidewalks?

A:  Millage funds may be used for construction of new sidewalks, but cannot be used for any portion of new sidewalk construction that could otherwise be funded by special assessment. Therefore, for many projects, the funding will be a mix of Special Assessment District funding generated from assessable parcels coupled with Millage or other City and/or federal and federal funds for non-assessable costs.

Q: How can residents initiate getting a new sidewalk installed where none currently exists? 

A: The City has completed an inventory, assessment, and prioritization of all the locations in the public right-of-way where sidewalks do not currently exist. The prioritization model includes such factors as:  proximity to schools, transit, affordable housing, and other pedestrian attractors; classification of adjacent road; citizen requests; length of the gap; and safety. This model has been used to identify the highest priority sidewalk gaps and create specific sidewalk construction projects for inclusion in the City's Capital Improvements Plan (CIP). Smaller segments of high priority sidewalk which are too short to justify a standalone project may be addressed through a generalized "Sidewalk Gap Elimination" program.

Since citizen requests are one of the criteria to prioritize sidewalk gaps, if new sidewalk is desired in an area, a written request may be submitted which may help move the location forward in the prioritized list. Submit requests for new sidewalks to or mail to:

Nick Hutchinson, City Engineer
City of Ann Arbor, Larcom City Hall
301 E. Huron Street, P.O. Box 8647
Ann Arbor, MI 48107-8647

Q: How does the process work once a project is created?

A: Once a project is created, it gets scheduled for a particular year as part of the City's Capital Improvements Planning process. City Council will then vote on authorizing City Staff to begin design work on the special assessment project. After the preliminary design and cost estimates are completed, City Council will establish the Special Assessment District (the list of properties that would be assessed, and the estimated assessments for each property), and also establish a Public Hearing date. After the Public Hearing, City Council will vote to confirm the Special Assessment District roll. Ultimately, the decision as to whether to build and assess for the cost of a new sidewalk lies with City Council.

Once the assessment is approved and the project has been constructed, the adjacent property owners may, in most cases, pay off their assessments in installments as set up with the Assessor's Office.