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Dear PSSS members:


After the first week of the restoration of American Street, Cliff and I noticed the extreme slope to some of the sidewalks down to the curbs (1 inch per foot), indicating that the curbs had not been reset during the restoration process (in order to be in compliance with the Street Department standard of 1/4 inch per foot).  


We notified Councilman Mark Squilla and Chief Engineer Stephen Lorenz, and according to what we heard, many discussions took place on how to fix the situation.  We were told by an employee of the contractor that the contractor brought this issue to the attention of the Streets Department.  Clearly, a big mistake was made.  Steep slopes constitute an unsafe slipping hazard, particularly under icy conditions.


Although the Streets Department is now trying to fix the problem, a fundamental principal of road engineering was ignored or overlooked in the restoration of American Street. 


As we expressed our concerns in writing to Councilman Squilla and Chief Engineer Lorenz, we noted that if the Streets Department cannot get the proper gradient between the curb and sidewalk on American Street, what are they going to do on Philip Street, where the street is sinking much more dramatically and has created a 2-inch per foot gradient, twice the error on American Street.


A fix is in the works which has made the some of the sidewalks less steep, but in our opinion, not what they should be.  Exacerbating the problem is the Streets Departmentís unnecessary and counterproductive requirement to pour a concrete foundation (instead of modified aggregate) for these small streets, making any repairs much more difficult and expensive.  This is an issue that we have raised many times over the last several years.


We are grateful that the error on American Street is being somewhat mitigated, but we hope that the restoration of Philip Street will be properly planned and executed.


Lynn and Cliff Landes, Founders 
The Philadelphia Society of Small Streets (PSSS) / 215-629-3553