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The city of Austin takes sidewalks seriously. In 2015, the city faced a significant sidewalk problem. Not only was the available sidewalk space insufficient to meet the needs of its residents, but the ones already in place around the city did not meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The answer to the sidewalk problem was the City of Austin Sidewalk Master Plan, and it has created work for sidewalk contractors around the city. If you’re a sidewalk contractor in Austin, TX, or a general contractor who works in the right-of-way area between the street and the property line, understanding the city’s sidewalk rules is essential.

The City of Austin Sidewalk Master Plan

The Austin City Council approved the Sidewalk Master Plan in 2016. Through this ambitious plan, the city created a pathway to expand 2,400 miles of sidewalks as well as repair and upgrade the sidewalks in disrepair or obstructed from view. Within five years, the city doubled the area covered by sidewalks, increasing mobility for residents.

To pay for the sidewalk expansion and repair, the city relied on several bonds, including the Austin Mobility Bonds of 2016, 2018, and 2020. In 2018, the bond allowed the city to use $20 million for sidewalk repair, and the 2020 bond provided $80 million to repair existing sidewalks and install new ones around the city.

Austin Right of Way Management: Who Is Responsible for Sidewalk Repair in Texas?

The Austin Public Works Department oversees sidewalk repair in the city, and residents are encouraged to notify the department when they notice a sidewalk that needs attention. Within this department, Austin Right of Way Management (ROW) is responsible for managing the right of way — all land owned by the public, including sidewalks and the ground between the curb and the sidewalk.

This agency ensures that people working within the right-of-way areas follow all guidelines and standards issued by the local, state, and federal government agencies. To do this, the agency issues permits and licenses to individuals who need to work in or block off the right-of-way area.

Do Sidewalk Contractors Need a Permit?

Anyone who will work directly in the right-of-way area needs a permit from Austin Right of Way Management. This also applies to people who need to block access to the right-of-way area for a specific project, such as replacing or repairing gutters, roofs, or driveways. In short, if your work may interfere with someone’s ability to use the sidewalk, be prepared to get a permit before you start the job.

How Do You Apply for a Sidewalk Permit in the City of Austin?

To apply for a permit to work on a driveway or sidewalk in the city of Austin, you need to submit information about the scope of the project and the details of the contractor who will be working on it. As part of the application process, you’ll need to provide proof of insurance and a bond in the amount of at least $10,000.

A surety bond offers assurance that you will complete the work you agree to do, follow safety standards, and observe guidelines and laws established by the city. If you fail to complete your end of the agreement, the city will be able to file a claim against the bond. The original, signed bond also must meet the following requirements:

  • issued on a form provided by the city of Austin
  • list coverage dates and bond amount
  • include an execution date
  • include the company structure

The city also requires the name on the bond to match the name on the insurance policy included with the permit application. Documents can be submitted electronically to an email address provided by the city.

How To Get a Sidewalk Bond for the City of Austin

Complete the online application to get a bond to work on or around a sidewalk in the city of Austin. You’ll be able to choose how to receive the documents when they are ready and send your payment for the bond you need.

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