TAMPA — Broken sidewalks are causing mobility issues for the disabled community. The City of Tampa is struggling to keep up with needed repairs. While for most the issue is an irritation, for people who use wheelchairs it can leave them unable to get around.
ABC Action News is committed to driving Tampa Bay forward. We're pushing the city for answers.
It can be difficult enough for someone in a wheelchair to navigate the curbs and sidewalks of a city. But when you add a big hole smack-dab in the middle of the sidewalk it can be almost impossible; even for someone who overcomes the impossible every day.
It's a sport known as murderball. It’s aggressive and high-paced. For athlete Justin Stark, crashing and tipping over is part of how he wins.
“My first thought was ''that’s the end of my walk today,'" described Stark.
Near the intersection of West Wilder Avenue and Habana Avenue is a sidewalk cracked and caved in. That means for Stark to get around it he would have no other option but to cross four lanes of traffic. An employee at a nearby assisted living facility says it's been like that for almost a month.
“I’m honestly not surprised. These kinds of things are not a priority until someone gets hurt," said Stark.
More than a bit frustrated, he snapped a picture of the sidewalk and posted it on Facebook. His caption reads: I don't think any running start is going to get me over this.
We reached out to the City of Tampa digging for answers. They confirmed there is a backlog of sidewalk repairs and there has always been one. But the city blames delays on one thing: lack of funding.
Jean Duncan, Director of Transportation and Stormwater Services, says the city gets only about $500,000 a year to build and repair sidewalks. She says, “the needs outweigh funding but we take the Americans with Disabilities Act very seriously. Any work orders dealing with it get pushed to the top of the list.”
We asked Stark how long is too long?
“If something is broken like this for up to a month it tells me that there is probably a lag that there shouldn’t be," he said.
Because of our reporting, the city is prioritizing this specific sidewalk. We're told any broken sidewalk that prevents mobility for the disabled should be immediately reported and the city will fix it within a month.
You can report a broken sidewalk online or by calling 813-274-3101.