PORTAGE PARK — Chicagoans fed up with tripping over bumpy, broken sidewalks may want to cut their New Year's Eve celebration short.
The city's Shared Cost Sidewalk Program will begin accepting applications at midnight Jan. 1, and city officials said homeowners who want to split the bill for repairing crumbling sidewalks with the city should act fast, since participants will be selected on a first-come, first-served basis.
Residents can apply online or by calling 311. Last year, the program exhausted its budget by Jan. 3, Ald. John Arena (45th) said.
Arena encouraged interested residents to apply for the program as soon after midnight as possible, echoing city officials' statements.
City of Chicago spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said the program's budget had not yet been set, but would likely be between $2 million and $2.5 million.
Owners of midblock homes typically wind up spending $600 to $1,200 for the repair, at a charge of $4 per square foot, which city officials tout as well below what a private contractor would charge. Senior citizens and the disabled receive a 50 percent discount, according to city officials.
The sidewalk to be repaired must be evaluated by engineers from the Chicago Department of Transportation to determine whether it qualifies, officials said.
Included in the program is the main walk, the courtesy walk, which runs perpendicular from the main sidewalk to the curb, and existing catwalks or landing steps, which is the small strip of concrete sometimes found adjacent to the curb, according to city officials.
Owners of corner lots will have to pay for both the front and side sidewalk repairs, city officials said.
Last year, the program was so popular that city officials added $500,000 to its $2 million budget, allowing approximately 1,000 applications to be approved. More than 1,800 homeowners applied for the program in 2013, and those who missed out must do so again in 2014 to be considered.
The 19th Ward, which includes Beverly and Mount Greenwood, saw the highest demand for the program, with 244 requests in 2013. The 44th Ward, which encompasses much of Lakeview, saw the second-highest with 232. And the third highest was the 41st Ward, including Edison Park and Norwood Park, with 173 requests.
Sidewalk damage can cause unsafe conditions for pedestrians, and slow repairs from 311 potentially costs the city millions in judgments.