A group conducting the first comprehensive infrastructure and safety audit of Munjoy Hill sidewalks has identified more than 300 'high priority' locations throughout the neighborhood where sidewalks have so deteriorated, they pose hazard to pedestrians, particularly the elderly, runners, and parents with strollers.
Ben Thornton is pastor of Portland's Centerpoint Church which recruited the volunteers who oversaw the project for the MHNO. Thonton organized an initial team of local volunteers who planned the project's logistics and later coordinated friends and volunteers who traveled to Portland from Georgia and Alabama to complete the effort. Thornton says the data collection phase has been completed and a final report will soon be presented to MHNO President Jay Norris in the coming days for review. The MHNO hopes to use the audit to educate its members and the community on the current pain points of Hill sidewalks as well as for presentation to the City in hopes of gaining priority during the upcoming budget process.
Thornton said the group identified areas of sidewalks that pose an immediate safety threat because of broken or missing bricks, frost heaves, root intrusions, and other hazards. The dangerous sidewalks were then photographed and correlated with adjacent house addresses using geotagging methods. Also being inventoried are sidewalks that pose aesthetic rather than safety concerns and a third category for sidewalks likely to present safety problems in the future, Thornton said.
Thornton said he undertook the project at the suggestion of Norris, who already has complained to the city about its lack of adequate attention to deteriorating sidewalks and infrastructure in the neighborhood.
So far the study has engaged a group of seven local team members and about a dozen volunteers from Georgia. Thornton said he expects another 15 volunteers from Alabama to arrive in Portland in July to help complete the audit.