How to prevent a problem by catching it when it is someone else’s responsibility!

For the last few months, my city (Plano, TX) has been performing some construction on a new trail connection.  They have contracted out the construction, and the contractors have been using fairly heavy equipment and cracking the existing trail as they drove over it.

I was on a business trip for a week, and when I returned I noticed on Sunday that they had repaved the damaged concrete trail.  Sounds great; however, as you can see in the following two pictures the contractor did a really poor job.  Rather than following the contour of the ground surface they levelled each slab piece, resulting in large vertical discrepancies (~ 1.5 inches) between adjacent slabs.

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ImageI noticed the problem, on my first loop around the park trail, but on the second I watched a young child crash her bike when her front wheel struck the discontinuity at an oblique angle.  Unfortunately I didn’t have my phone, which has an application to report such problems to the city.  My next ride on this trail was Tuesday early morning, so I made a point to take my phone.

On Tuesday, the problem was still there and it didn’t appear that anything was being done to correct the problem, so I took the above photos and reported them to the city using the “FixIt Plano” app.  I also commented that I had already seen the problem cause a small child to crash their bike.  Within a couple of hours (I reported it at 7am) I had a response that they were aware of the issue and that it was supposed to have barricades placed around it until it could be fixed.

I took another ride on Wednesday morning, and no barricades were in place.  I let the city know that the contractor had not complied yet.  I received a phone call letting me know that they were pursuing the issue.  I took another ride Wednesday evening and not only were barricades in place, the contractor had already torn up the bad concrete and was preparing to pour replacement slabs.

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The moral of the story is that even in areas where the city is not very responsive (which doesn’t apply to Plano), the best way to prevent a long term problem is to notice and report it when the work is still being performed by contractors (and before they have been paid for it) so that the city only has to say; “Fix it or you will not be paid!”  I fully expect the new concrete to be poured within 72 hours of my first reporting it!

UPDATE

I rode by this area on Thursday afternoon and noticed that they had already poured the new concrete for the path.  On Saturday morning, I noticed that the barricades were gone and people were using the path.

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