I live in a subdivision old enough for tree roots to be pushing sidewalks up and causing breaks. Who has the responsibility to repair these sidewalks and who is liable for injuries caused by broken sidewalks: the homeowner or the city? Are sidewalks along streets considered part of the easement?

Fred Raiford, the city-parish transportation and drainage director, notes that any issues about sidewalks may vary depending on the inspection of the site.

"When dealing with tree roots, we would make an inspection to determine what type of damage has been caused," he said.

If the tree is considered a public nuisance or a danger, the city is required to give 10 days' notice to the property owner to have the tree removed, Raiford said. If the owner refuses, the city-parish can remove the trees at the owner's expense.

As to who is responsible for repairs of the sidewalks, that would be determined after the city-parish inspection.

"If the sidewalk is damaged due to city work, then the city would be responsible," Raiford says. "If damage is caused by someone else — utility companies or contractors — then we would hold them responsible."

As for liability, Raiford says each situation is different and should be addressed by the Parish Attorney’s Office.

Finally, are sidewalks along streets considered easements? "In some cases, yes," Raiford says.

"In many subdivisions the approved final plats state that sidewalks are located in easements or servitudes and that property owners are responsible for the maintenance of them. However if a city utility (sewer or storm drain) caused the sidewalk problem, then the city would fixed the sidewalk."

Walk, don't run

The Crescent at University Lake condominium has over 200 residents who take their lives in hand when trying to cross Stanford Avenue to reach Wampold Park (Baton Rouge Beach). Crosswalk markings are ignored by motorists. With construction on adjacent apartment complex Bayonne nearing completion, the area's population will more than double, adding to the number of people using the crosswalk. Why is there not a blinking-light crosswalk in the area where Stanford approaches LSU Avenue? 

"We have developed a plan to install pedestrian signals at this location to address the safety concerns," Fred Raiford, the city-parish transportation and drainage director, says. "It will be in the area where the existing crossing is located. The tie-in of the sidewalk on the condominium side is being worked out also. It is our goal to address this in the first quarter of year 2018 or sooner depending on final cost."

Send your questions to Ask The Advocate, 10705 Rieger Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70809; or fax to Ask The Advocate, (225) 388-0371; or email asktheadvocate@theadvocate.com.