While concrete is a durable construction material, it is not invincible. Numerous factors can damage roads, parking lots, curbs and sidewalks throughout New York. Unfortunately, sidewalk damage such as cracks and heaves can lead to serious pedestrian injuries.
Whether you are walking to work, to school, to meet a friend or simply down the block to run a quick errand, sidewalk damage is usually the least of your concerns. Unfortunately, pedestrians can trip over cracks and uneven pavement surfaces leading to falls that result in broken bones, torn ligaments, brain damage and strained muscles. For example:
- Concrete cracking: While weather is always a consideration, sidewalk cracks are generally caused by two factors: weight limits and improper installation. Concrete mixtures differ from project to project and the mixture for a building’s foundation, for example, is designed to withstand a greater weight limit than the mixtures for sidewalks and curbs. With the accumulated pressure of millions of people stepping across it, the sidewalk can eventually move and crack.
- Concrete sinking: Dramatic weather including heavy rain and melting snow can ultimately lead to the soil base degrading. This can cause the concrete to sink, often in different sections. When a sunken section butts up against a section at its original level it can lead to an uneven walking surface – often with several inches of separation.
- Concrete heaving: If the soil beneath the sidewalk is not properly prepared, it can freeze and thaw repeatedly based on changing weather. When the moisture in the soil freezes, it expands. When it thaws, it contracts. This can cause the sidewalk to undulate leading to cracking and heaving. Additionally, during the hot, dry summer months when the ground might dry out too much, it will shift downward.
Every year, New York experiences dramatic seasonal weather. From the blazing heat of the summer to the frigid cold of the winter, people must endure extremes of all kinds. Unfortunately, these weather changes can stress building materials causing them to constantly expand and contract. In fact, this movement can even happen over the course of a single day. From the heat of the direct sun in the early afternoon to the cold air that accompanies the setting of the sun, sidewalk pavement can crack, heave and deteriorate. If timely repairs are not made, pedestrians can trip and fall, leading to severe injuries.