Responding to complaints about the sharpness of the polished glass used in California Avenue's new sidewalks, Palo Alto officials have directed the contractor behind the $7 million streetscape project to remove and re-embed the glass in some areas.
The shards in question are part of "glass aggregate," a glittering surface that is included in the new sidewalks on California Avenue.
In recent weeks, resident Ronna Devincenzi notified the council several times about shards that are coming loose from the aggregate, creating a hazard for people wearing sandals or walking barefoot through the eclectic business district.
In a recent email, she wrote about a glass shard that "became airborne," and "landed about one foot from where my shoe made contact with it."
She also wrote that some shards catch on to people's shoes and "get further tracked into stores and perhaps homes too, scratching hardwood floors" and possibly getting picked up in pets' paws, wheelchairs and baby strollers.
"Thus, I am convinced that using embedded glass on California Avenue's sidewalks is unwise and an unsafe construction decision," Devincenzi wrote to the council. "The time to address these sidewalks is now, with the contractors still there."
City officials said that the tumbled and polished glass used on California Avenue is designed specifically for sidewalks. When installed properly, it has no sharp edges or fragmentation, the city's Tuesday update on California Avenue's construction states. Yet in reviewing the new sidewalks, officials said that they found areas where the glass "is not embedded correctly and will need to be redone/repaired by the contractor."
"We are still in the process of quantifying this amount and will report out with a replacement/repair plan once we have discussed this with the contractor," the city's update states. "Many recent concerns regarding the glass sidewalk will be resolved by replacing the rejected areas."
In addition to wider sidewalks, the dramatic renovation of California Avenue includes two new plazas, a reduction of lanes from four to two, a new fountain near the Caltrain station, new bike and pedestrian amenities and street furniture. The council approved the $6.9 million construction contract with Redgwick Construction last February.
The renovation project is set to conclude this spring.