Some sidewalks are missing in Orem, but nobody took them.

They were simply never built, or they have broken down so badly over the past several years that they are virtually nothing but gravel base today.All details about the situation can be found in the "Missing Sidewalks Report 1997 Revised for July 1998," which also describes how much money it's going to cost to fill in the blanks.

Developed by Steven Jones, an engineering intern working on the project for his master's degree at Brigham Young University, the report is the result of years of study and sidewalk assessment done by public works staff.

Combined with computer mapping designed by Leland Martineau, storm water quality inspector, Orem has a state-of-the-art maintenance plan, presented to the City Council recently for approval.

"These are essentially smart maps, easy to read and easy to understand," said Richard Manning, director of public works for Orem. "We ought to market it."

The maps show Orem needs 100,000 linear feet of sidewalk built, repaired or replaced through-out the community with the hot spots in the northwest area of town.

It will take nine years to take care of the most urgent problems at an estimated cost of $1,030,000. That involves fixing the sidewalks within 0.3 miles of all the elementary schools in Orem.

The cost to do everything the city needs to do to provide adequate, safe sidewalks is estimated at between $8 million and $10 million.

"The Utah Supreme Court says we have to provide our residents with adequate sidewalks," said Steve Weber, maintenance division manager with Orem City Public Works. "Besides that, we have community pride at stake and it's to our benefit to enhance pedestrian safety."

Weber said sidewalks separate, heave, crack and spall over the years, leaving hazards, loose gravel and lips - impediments that can trip people, who sometimes sue the city.

Milling or grinding down the lips helps, he said, when the city cannot replace the sidewalk immediately.

In the past three years, Orem has milled 7,000 lips and claims have dropped from four in 1994 to zero in 1997.

"It's going to take time to do this, you're right," Weber told the council this week. "But for years, it was just hit and miss. We were not replacing missing sidewalks."

"This is a giant leap forward," Manning said.