Broken sidewalks: Repairs push pedestrian traffic into street temporarily, new survey has safety in mind

Construction, sidewalks affecting pedestrian traffic; new survey will address safety
Updated: May. 13, 2018 at 12:48 AM EDT
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A sidewalk under construction in Old Louisville. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
A sidewalk under construction in Old Louisville. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE 3)-- No matter where you go in Louisville, you've likely come across some construction to city sidewalks in the past few weeks.

Louisville Metro Public Works' 3-year Sidewalk Repair Plan was finalized on Friday. It maps out a new proactive approach and how sidewalks will be prioritized.

Sidewalks in neighborhoods all over the metro are currently being repaired, with many curbs blocked off to foot traffic.

When the work is finished, they will all conform to the Americans with Disabilities Act, ensuring that people in wheelchairs can easily access a safe sidewalk.

But, the curbs that are already finished have been concerning and confusing to some.

Because the roads must be repaired all at once, paving can't begin until the curbs are finished. That means the finished curb ramps start several inches above the street, making them inaccessible to people in wheelchairs.

It's of particular concern for residents in Old Louisville.

According to Metro Council President David James, the neighborhood has the highest concentration of senior citizen high rises in the state.

Longtime resident Lawrence says it's been tough navigating in his wheelchair since construction began at the corner of 4th Street and Kentucky last week.

He said there's no other choice but for him to travel in the road alongside traffic.

"It's dangerous," Lawrence said. "This street is not that big. A couple of times it's been real close and I had to kind of pull over in the gap between a parked car."

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Lawrence said he's looking forward to the improvements to the curbs and sidewalks. Last year, he says his wheelchair was damaged when he drove over an uneven spot on 4th Street.

"My chair was down for two months," Lawrence said. "It was terrible I was limited mostly to my house."

Another Old Louisville resident, Donna Carter, said she tripped and fell in the same spot just three weeks ago.

She injured her wrist, which is still wrapped.

"It wasn't comfortable. It was embarrassing. It was shocking," Carter said.

Carter's medical visit was covered by insurance, and so was the $900 repair bill for Lawrence's wheelchair.

Neither reported it to the city. They both said they assumed the city was keeping track of areas that needed to be fixed.

"We've never done a total complete inventory of our sidewalks to see what condition they're all in," James said.

That is, until now.

Reports from civilians will no longer be the city's only way of knowing which sidewalks need to be fixed.

In January, public works enlisted a team to do a survey of the sidewalks.

They've been working on a complete map showing the 2,000 miles of sidewalks in the metro with data on their conditions and severity of hazard.

"It's very exciting for me, because it's something that the council folks have been talking about and complaining about because our constituents talk and complain about it," James said.

James says the responsibility of reporting unsafe sidewalks shouldn't be on civilians alone. But, it's important for them to report any safety hazards they see.

"We don't want anybody being hurt," James said. "I'm sure every year we have people trip and fall on our sidewalks, and we need to make sure that doesn't happen."

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