Answer: Inspectors saw some deterioration on certain parts of the sidewalk and gutter system in that neighborhood and chose to have the contractor replace the sections while they’re still under warranty.
The residents of the Canterbury neighborhood —just north of West Meadows Drive and west of South Kipling Parkway — who regularly walk the sidewalks have probably noticed the replacement work.
It may seem odd, considering that the sidewalks seemed fine and the work is irregularly spaced throughout the neighborhood.
Apparently inspectors from the Jefferson County Road and Bridge Division saw some slight deterioration in certain areas of the sidewalks. Rather than wait for it to become a full-fledged problem, the county decided to have the contractor that laid the sidewalks replace the damaged panels while they're still under warranty.
"There are several criteria that we look for, some more subtle than others — especially with the problem we had with that curb and gutter down there," said Larry Benshoof, Jeffco's director of road and bridge.
Benshoof said the problem is known as "spalling," in which chunks of concrete break away from the surface, exposing the inner aggregate.
"It's a slow, subtle process, and it significantly reduces the lifespan of that concrete," Benshoof said. "To the layman, the resident out there, it probably looked fine. To us, we know that years down the road, instead of getting 30 or 40 years out of that curb and gutter, we might only get 10 or 15. That's why we have them replace it."
He added that the work will appear random, with some areas being as small as 10 feet, while others could be longer than 100 feet. A total of 2,200 linear feet has been or will be replaced. Without the warranty, the work would have cost roughly $71,000.
"Overall, we're saving future dollars by doing it under warranty," Benshoof said. "We understand that it's aggravating for the neighbors to have to go through this again, but it's really in the best interests of county taxpayers in the future. It's expensive to do that work."
Most of the sidewalk being replaced was laid in June 2007, Benshoof said, but the contract was extended, and after the normal back-and-forth in county contracting, the one-year warranty was still in place.
Benshoof said that Thoutt Brothers Concrete did the original work and is doing the replacement work. Spalling isn't uncommon, he said, but it's unclear exactly why it occurred in this case. Whatever the reason, the contractor did the right thing, Benshoof said.
"They came through, they did the right thing, and they're replacing the failing sections of concrete," he said. "We've never had trouble like this with this contractor over many years. It's just one of those things."
Benshoof encouraged people with questions about this project or other county projects to call the Road and Bridge Division at 303-271-5200.