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Fines loom for unshoveled sidewalks

MADISON (WKOW) – While it’s up to the plows to clean off roads, it’s your responsibility to take care of your sidewalks.

“If your sidewalk is ice-covered and slippery, and people are going to fall and get hurt on it, that’s a very serious issue,” said George Hank, who oversees Madison’s department that handles dangerous sidewalk complaints.

He says his department has received more than 350 complaints this year of dangerous sidewalks, most from the last two storms.

The city ordinance says snow must be removed from sidewalks by noon the day after it stops snowing. With the most recent Madison storm, that deadline was noon Thursday.

“If they don’t want to shovel the sidewalk going up to their front door, that’s not part of the ordinance,” Hank said. “It’s just the public sidewalks that they are responsible for maintaining.”

The ordinance states that sidewalks must be completely clear edge to edge, Hank said. If they’re not, you will be fined.

“The city does not issue warnings for sidewalks,” Hank said. “It’s actually stated in the ordinance that … enforcement begins with citation.”

The first offense will cost you $124, according to Hank. When you’re ticketed, the city will leave a card on your door notifying you. If you still don’t clear your sidewalk after 24 hours, the city will send out a cleaning crew of their own – and send you the bill.

“It’s typically about $86,” Hank said. “I think half the ones we’ve left door cards on, we… end up clearing the sidewalk.”

It’s especially important to keep your sidewalks clear for those who can’t walk as easily.

“People with mobility issues – walkers, somebody who’s in a wheelchair, someone of that nature struggle trying to get through snow,” Hank said. “That’s another reason why this enforcement action is taken.”

If you see a dangerous sidewalk and would like to report it to the City of Madison, you can do so at or call (608) 266-4551.

If you are physically unable to clear the sidewalk in front of your house or business, you can call the City of Madison at (608) 266-4551 and they will connect you with someone who can help you for the remainder of the season.

Andrew Merica

Reporter/Producer, 27 News

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