Problem of the root


The roots of a city-owned tree are breaking through the sidewalk in front of a Gorsuch Avenue home

April 05, 2009|By Liz Kay | Liz Kay,

THE PROBLEM : The roots of a city-planted tree have damaged the sidewalk in front of a resident's house.

THE BACKSTORY : Ever since Belle Massey moved into her home on Gorsuch Avenue, the roots of a street tree have been popping out of the pavement. "It's pulling itself right out of the ground," she said.

By now, the woody tendrils have raised one of the sidewalk tiles, while other parts of the sidewalk have caved in, Massey said. In summer, the Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello resident must sweep away puddles to keep mosquitos away. In winter, she must navigate around patches of ice.

Massey assumed her walk would be fixed when city workers repaired sidewalks in front of other homes on her street. She called the city's 311 line and was promised her sidewalk would be next on the list for repair.

"A whole 'nother summer went by and it hasn't been done," she said.

City residents can call 311 or submit a request to 311 online for a sidewalk inspection or an assessment of damages, said Baltimore transportation spokeswoman Adrienne Barnes. But there's a big backlog.

Homeowners are responsible for maintenance of the sidewalks in front of and behind their homes. Property owners can also pay to have the city complete the repairs, which cost $6.50 per square foot for sidewalks, $7.50 for driveways and $2.50 for alleys, Barnes said.

If the damage has been caused by street trees, the city will cover the costs, Barnes said.

Massey had one service request in the system, and her walk has already been inspected. It should be fixed by late summer - at no cost to Massey, because of the damage from the street tree, Barnes said.

WHO CAN FIX THIS : Satinder Kang, construction project supervisor, Baltimore Department of Transportation, 410-396-6944. City residents should call 311 to report problems or submit a report online at

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