Updated March 28 at 3:28pm

Who should be responsible for sidewalk snow removal?


Passable sidewalks are a key component in creating community and promoting commerce in city and village centers.

Yet, with winter snows, many sidewalks become impossible to navigate, as snow and ice plowed from roadways pile up where pedestrians need to go.

In addition, winter storms often bring ice to sidewalks, making the walk down a hill to one’s place of employment as treacherous as crossing Interstate 95.

So, who should be responsible for making sure that sidewalks are usable?

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It would be most helpful if in a survey like this it could be stated by the survey what the current condition is. Who IS responsible, legally, if there is someone, or is no one? Other cities I've lived in make it the property-owner's responsbility, and give out tickets and fines to offenders, in order to keep sidewalks passable in winter. Is that the case in Providence?

Friday, February 6, 2009 | Report this

The law in Providence is:

“Sec. 23-13. Removal of snow–Required.

All owners, occupants or persons having care of any building or lot bordering upon any street, highway or public place within the city, shall within the first four (4) hours of daylight after the end of any snowfall, or the fall or deposit of snow on the sidewalk of said building or lot from any cause whatsoever:

(a) Remove or cause to be removed all snow from a path not less than three (3) feet in width of the entire border in or on said street, highway, or public place;

(b) Remove or cause to be removed all snow from around any fire hydrant on the sidewalk in front of said building or lot;

(c) Remove or cause to be removed all snow from the opening of any catch basin in the sidewalk of said building or lot;

(d) Remove or cause to be removed all snow from pedestrian-access ramps cut into street curbs bordering said building or lot;

Any person found guilty of violating this section shall be fined not less than twenty-five dollars ($25.00) nor more than three hundred dollars ($300.00). The enforcement of the above shall be done by the city police department.

(Ord. 1914, ch. 30, § 24; Rev. Ords. 1946, ch. 33, § 38; Ord. 1961, ch. 1422, § 1; Ord. 1994, 94-56, § 1, 12-27-94; Ord. 2003, ch. 03-37, 6-16-03)”

At Greater City: Providence we've been blogging a lot this winter about snow removal issues.

There is the law as outlined above, but it is not enforced in Providence. There is also the question of who removes the snow from city or state property, one would assume the city or state. Take a walk along Smith Street outside the State House and see how well a job the state does with it's sidewalks. (Hint: not very)

Friday, February 6, 2009 | Report this

Like so many things, it needs to be turned into an embarassing news story or several sizable lawsuits before it will be enforced. Until then, no one can be bothered.

Friday, February 6, 2009 | Report this

You own it, you shovel it. That's too simple for the Rogue Island citizenry.

Friday, February 6, 2009 | Report this

There should be a revisiting of all state, municipal and private property owners' (residents/businesses) obligations to maintain their immediate sections of sidewalk maintenance in Rhode Island.

For example, older and/or disabled property owners have many restrictions (i.e., age, handicapped, financial, ect.) that poses a hardship.

Agencies that have clientele usage, Post Offices/Boxes, RIPTA (public transportation) should devise a statewide, district plan to shovel out and allow access to their stations strewn around the state.

Like our budgetary and financial state and local governments, the IDEA[s] of Economy of Scales should be an application that is provided in the private sector in purchasing new and practical snow removal light machinery that can be purchased say on line, at cost for state, local and quasi-government agencies, chambers of commerce, churches, businesses and residents in allowing a concerted effort all the way around.

These are the ideas that need to be explored, reviewed, revisited, implemented as a doable ongoing plan to have government serve its citizenry while its citizens equally cooperates and bolsters the aggregate processes of the government it supports.

Friday, February 6, 2009 | Report this

Home owners and business owners should be responsible for the sidewalks in front of their establishments. AND town governments should clear sidewalks that are not near a business or home. For example in Barrington the town NEVER clears the walk near the bus stops. This is very dangerous for RIPTA riders. While the town can berate (and fine) residents for not clearing the sidewalks near their home, they don't practice what they preach. It drives me crazy.

Friday, February 6, 2009 | Report this

Shoveling sidewalks has always been an effort in futility. No sooner do you shovel, a plow comes along and throws it right back on the sidewalk with snow that is twice as heavy. Residents and business owners are not allowed to shovel sidewalk snow onto the street but plows have no problem doing just that. Who's snow is it?

Saturday, February 7, 2009 | Report this
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