When the Town of Cottage City in Prince George's County received a federal grant to have some of its cracked sidewalks repaired, residents along 40th Avenue got more than they bargained for.
Take Town Commissioner Diane Collins, for example.
To her surprise, she found that it took an extra step last Tuesday to get to the brand new sidewalk that had been poured outside of her yard -- four inches higher than the sidewalk that was there before.
Down the street, neighbors tried to open their gates but could not get out; the level of the sidewalk was too high to allow it.
Officials at the county Department of Public Works and Transportation said the sidewalks were constructed according to plans submitted by a consulting engineer hired by Cottage City.
"We built exactly what was given to us by their consulting engineers," explained department spokesman Selia Shoffner-Glenn, who added that the town had not yet complained to Prince George's officials. She said the plans called for raising the sidewalks and curbs to the level of the more recently paved streets.
Cottage City officials did their best to explain the mishap without pointing fingers.
Commission Chairman Deanna J. Bartlett, said 40th Avenue was the second street to be repaired in the quiet little town with a population of 1,122 just over the District line. Shepard Street, completed first, was fine. Nevertheless, the commission has asked the construction crews to hold off on any more pouring until something can be done.
Bartlett said many sidewalks were too low when it applied for funds to improve streets. She said the county may be able to correct the problem by building ramps from the sidewalk to the property.
"It's the talk of the town," said Charlene Obloy, another 40th Avenue resident. "My reaction was like everybody else -- wow, this is entirely too high."