Tampa neighborhood hopes Super Bowl 2012 will bring change to streets

Area around Raymond James Stadium in focus

WEST TAMPA, Fla. - Walking in West Tampa is a high risk activity. The lack of sidewalks is a visible safety concern for those who live there and the issue is no secret. However, it took a major event bringing thousands of tourists to Tampa to put it on the city's radar.

It's a daily sight. Folks with no choice but to walk on the road.

"I'm surprised we haven't seen somebody hit by a car but I do think it's a tragedy waiting to happen," said neighbor Elaine Prieto Sumner.
 
Blocks with nothing but grass and asphalt. Plus, a bizarre sight as the few sidewalks built seem to randomly end at the edge of homes. Right next to Sumner's house, the end of a sidewalk leads up to a hedge.

"It's very frustrating to go walking in my neighborhood and know that I only have a couple of areas that I'm going to be on the sidewalk it's frustrating," she said.

The Super Bowl is coming to Raymond James Stadium in 2021.Now, this old neighborhood is in focus. It's putting projects like new sidewalks on the city's radar.

"It comes down to dollars and priorities," said Jean Duncan. She's in charge of Tampa streets, as Director of Transportation and Stormwater Services. She tells ABC Action News just building new sidewalks isn't as easy a task as everyone might think. Particularly, in West Tampa.

"We have narrow streets, we have narrow right of ways where we don't own much property, we've got trees, large trees" Duncan lists.

She tells us their budget is typically around $500,000 but last year and the year before that they got zero dollars for new sidewalks.

That's exactly why Sumner is asking her neighbors to sign a petition, hoping it will transform the potential project into reality. Using the Super Bowl's momentum, and adding another push from neighbors, she's optimistic city leaders will prioritize their new sidewalks.

"It's sad that unfortunately that it's something like a Super Bowl that it's going to bring it to the forefront, but if that's what it takes, I'm all for it," said Sumner.

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