CLEARWATER — An Ocala company has won a $250,000 city contract to cut and repair uneven sidewalks that pose trip hazards or make them inaccessible for wheelchair users.
Precision Sidewalk Safety Corp., which has fixed sidewalk trip hazards and other walkway problems for Washington County and Panama City Beach in Florida, in Greenville, South Carolina, and in other cities and towns, will repair 6,289 inch-feet of Clearwater sidewalks at a price ranging from $38.80 to $40 per inch-foot, a contract shows.
Precision’s contract, which was approved by the city council Dec. 19, requires the company to repair hairline cracks, surface imperfections that pose trip hazards, as well as any jutting storm drains.
Broken, loose, or uneven sidewalks are a big source of negligence lawsuits against cities and local government. Pedestrians who trip and fall on poorly maintained sidewalks often turn to the local government for redress, and whether they are successful or not, the city must pay legal fees to defend itself.
Patricia A. Whitehead is one such Clearwater case. Whitehead, who tripped over a raised portion of sidewalk on Edgewater Drive in October 2017, is not only suing the city for injuries and medical expenses, she believes the city was negligent in repairing and maintaining the sidewalk where she tripped.
According to Pinellas County Circuit Court records, Whitehead fell and struck her elbow and other parts of her body on the concrete sidewalk. In her civil lawsuit against the city, she alleges the raised section of sidewalk had been marked with spray paint for future repair.
She also blames the city for failing to warn her and other pedestrians of the “dangerous condition” of the sidewalk.
Whitehead wants to be compensated in excess of $15,000 for permanent injury, disability, pain and suffering, loss of income, loss of ability to earn, and medical expenses, court records show. She and city representatives are scheduled to meet July 6 to begin mediation of the dispute.
Deputy City Manager Micah Maxwell told the Beacon that Precision Sidewalk’s contract represents the city’s continual repair and maintenance of sidewalks over the years. It is not linked to Whitehead’s lawsuit.
“The city doesn’t wait for someone to be injured to take care of sidewalk repair,” Maxwell said.
Many of the city’s 1,800 employees who work in the field spot and report sidewalks that need repair, trees that need attention, as well as problems with street and road surfaces. Not to mention citizens who call the city and report issues, which Maxwell said the city appreciates.
According to city traffic engineer Bennet Elbo, it is the job of Streets and Sidewalks staff in the Parks and Recreation program to replace trouble sidewalks, but the size of the job forces them to rely on outside contractors for help.
Precision Sidewalk uses a patented cutting system to reduce trip hazards instead of old-fashioned grinding, which creates toxic concrete dust and other problems, Elbo said. Because the city must ensure sidewalks are accessible for wheelchairs, the work requires engineering accuracy. Precision Sidewalks and other contractors guarantee their accuracy.
“Once they cut it, then the angle has to meet ADA specifications of a 1:12 slope, so wheelchair users can negotiate the sidewalk and don’t get their wheels stuck.”
Work will begin once a purchase order and other details are finished. Here are the areas where Precision Sidewalk will look for and repair trip hazards:
Inside the box bordered on the west by South Belcher Road, on the east by U.S. 19, on the north by Druid Road, and on the south of Nursery Road: Sidewalks along Harn Boulevard, Morningside Drive, Flushing Avenue, St. Charles Drive and side streets are slated for repair.
Inside the box bordered on the west by U.S. 19, on the east by McMullen Booth Road, on the north by SR 580, and on the south by Sunset Point Road: Sidewalks along Landmark Drive, Cypress Bend Drive, Deer Run, Sweetgum Way, Landmark Drive, Eastland Boulevard, Brandywine Drive, Haverford Drive, Cascade Drive, McCormick Drive, Chautauqua Avenue, Abby Lake Road, Hill Creek Circle and other side streets are slated for repair.
Inside the box bordered on the west by U.S. 19 North, on the east by McMullen Booth Road, on the north by Curlew Road, and on the south by SR 580: Sidewalk repair is slated along the length of Landmark Drive, including Meadow Hill Drive North, Landover Drive, Wildwood Drive, Long View Drive, Quail Hollow Road West, Northside Drive and side streets; Clubhouse Drive, Westchester Drive and side streets