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'It's breaking bones': South Aurora residents say drainage system causes dangerous, icy sidewalks

South Aurora residents injured from slipping on icy sidewalks, blame drainage system
Posted at 8:50 PM, Jan 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-27 22:51:14-05

AURORA, Colo. — Residents living in the Inspiration community in south Aurora have lost their fondness for the snow.

"The temperature goes up and it melts, and then overnight you get a very big pile of ice on this side," resident Grace Franklin said.

That ice would cover long stretches of sidewalks in the community and last for several days, according to resident Jeff Brown.

"It's breaking bones," he said . "There is an attorney just north of here that fell and broke his wrist and required surgery."

Brown says the threat to public safety has been going on for years.

Resident Sanjay Tripadhi slipped Wednesday while trying to grab an item from his vehicle.

"It was thin ice and I just put my feet [down]. I fell towards my right. All this hurts, my shoulder hurts," Tripadhi told Denver7, pointing to his injury.

The issue, according to several residents, stems from poorly engineered drainage systems.

"The engineer thought it was perfectly okay to route the water onto the sidewalk," Brown said.

He says this is exactly why so much ice builds up on the sidewalk when snow melts and the temperatures drop, creating ice.

Multiple residents in the community believe a chain drain, which would direct the water underneath the sidewalk, would significantly mitigate any ice buildup on the sidewalk. That's why Brown sent a letter of complaint regarding the matter in late 2019 to the then-18th Judicial District Attorney, George Bauchler.

The complaint had signatures from 42 other residents and alleged reckless endangerment, among other things. However, the City of Aurora determined the claims to be unfounded.

In a statement to Denver7 News, Aurora spokesperson Ryan Luby said in part, "Engineering design standards utilize the roadway gutters ... the water from yard sprinklers and snowmelt is intended to flow over the sidewalk and curb and into the gutters to be subsequently delivered to the storm drain system."

Franklin says that system may work in theory, but she showed Denver7 how that drainage system creates a public safety hazard on her property.

"Everything drains over here, and that's when the ice builds up," she said, hovering over a sheet of ice covering the sidewalk directly in front of her home.

What neighbors want to see instead are drains that deliver the water underneath the sidewalk, which engineers have constructed in only portions of the community. According to Luby, installing these sort of drains was once on the city's radar, but funding became an issue.

"The city initiated a chase drain pilot program in 2019, but it did not continue due to a finite budget and concerns about costs," he said.

In the meantime, residents hope that John Kellner, the new DA in the 18th Judicial District, would consider taking a look at the complaint and consider the public safety struggles residents in his jurisdiction face each winter.

"I've learned how to cope with it since nothing is being done," Franklin said.