In a city like Buffalo, where we love our winters (for the most part), it is a wonder that there are not more heated sidewalks in commercial districts. It is a rare occasion when I happen upon one, which is why I was surprised when I found out that a friend, Scott Huber, had installed one in front of his building at 491 Delaware Avenue. I called Scott to find out just what it took to pull off the project, and he told me that the hardest part was finding a contractor to take on such a small job*. That led me to wondering what it would take to pull off a large job – say Main Street or Allentown as new infrastructure is added and reconfigured.
It is interesting to note that Scott is the owner of an insurance agency (Allstate) called Huber Agency. Knowing that, it makes a lot of sense that he would install heated sidewalks leading up to his residence and business. “I don’t understand why more people don’t have heated sidewalks,” he told me. “At Bank of America, just down the street, there are heated sidewalks and when I walked over there Monday morning they were completely clear of snow and steaming. I am aware of other cities that have centralized boiler systems in order to implement the feature on a large scale. While installing a system on a small scale is not cheap, installing a centralized boiler system in a commercial neighborhood would bring the cost way down. The way I look at it, a city like Buffalo could have, and should have, heated sidewalks, crosswalks and streets in busy commercial districts. Just think about how many people would come to visit and all of the business that would be generated. Also think about all of the salt that would be saved from being flushed down the sewer systems.”
On his personal system, Scott added a high efficiency boiler that only kicks on if the temperature hits freezing and there is moisture in the air. As you can see (photo), there is quite a difference when you compare the heated walkway to the shoveled walkway. I hope that The City is at least researching the cost/practicality as it moves forward redesigning and improving its commercial districts. If other cites are indeed initiating this practice, then there’s no reason that Buffalo should not be implementing as well.
*The contractor that agreed to do the work was Twin Air Heating and Cooling