These repairs are steps in the right direction

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The fix is in — for the step street located at West 229th Street between Heath Avenue and Kingsbridge Terrace.

Step streets, by the way, are a flight of stairs located between two avenues separated by a steep hill.

These particular steps were “deteriorated and dangerous,” said Laura Spalter, chair of Community Board 8’s environment and sanitation committee. Spalter’s committee and community volunteers recently inspected 20 of 26 step streets in CB8’s jurisdiction, creating a number of reports on the conditions of each steps.

Those reports included details like trash in the area, graffiti scrawled along the sides of adjacent buildings, and in the case of this particular structure at West 229th, the steps were uneven and broken in some parts.

“When surveying the steps we found them in terrible shape: deplorable dumping, garbage and weeds on the shoulders, missing railings, uneven steps, crumbling cement, tons of graffiti,” Spalter said, who inspected the West 229th Street step street this past spring.

The stairs are 230 feet long, stretching 10 flights on a 65-foot climb leading from Heath to Kingsbridge Terrace.

Work includes replacing the stairs with wider granite steps to help it meet modern safety standards. The outer stone retaining walls will be repaired while sloped concrete terraces and pavers will be replaced with new pavers set in a concrete bedding, according to the design department’s website.

Additionally, a bicycle channel will be added to both sides, making it easier to move up and down the steps. Benches also will be available at two of the step street’s landings.

The entire project is a collaboration between the city’s design and construction department as well as its transportation department. It’s expected to cost $6.6 million, and will be completed in Summer 2018.

The original plans called for the construction of a temporary staircase for pedestrians while the main step street was overhauled. However, design and construction spokesman Ian Michaels said those plans were scrapped after the city realized it could shave six months from total construction time by doing away with the wooden staircase.

During construction, city officials advise those in the neighborhood to use the step street at West 230th Street near P.S. 360.

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