BOSTON (CBS) – Local leaders like to call Boston “America’s walking city.” WBZ’s I-Team found some problems that make it seem more like the tripping and tumbling city.
At a shop on State Street, employees keep a package of bandages handy, because so many pedestrians trip and fall on the sidewalk outside the store. “If anybody falls, we can patch them up,” said Tamika Edwards. “But this is going to be a situation that constantly repeats itself if they don’t do something to repave these sidewalks for these people.”
Some people limp away after falling, and hope nobody saw. Others try to get even. Records the I-Team obtained show 554 claims in the last five years. While the city has paid nearly $50,000 to settle some of them, nearly 140 are still unresolved.
Josephine Lobono’s case is one of them. She has to use a straw to eat things like applesauce after she fell on her face, tripping on a hole that cracked in a sidewalk plate on State Street. “I was in pain,” she said. Onlookers stopped to help. “They said, ‘Oh my God, we have to call an ambulance. You’re bleeding so much.’” She got stitches on her lip at the hospital, and now says she’s afraid to walk alone.
The I-Team checked areas where people posted complaints on Boston’s 311 app, and found corroded concrete, raised ledges, bricks missing, loose, and strewn about on sidewalk surfaces.
Experts say Boston sidewalks take a beating from weather and pedestrians. “They’re probably good for about 40 years,” said landscape architect Mark Klopfer, who has overseen many of the city’s sidewalk projects. Like everything else, he said it comes down to money, especially with New England’s signature brick and stone.
The only way to prevent them from buckling, he said, is to use an expensive technique. “Much more expensive…You put concrete under it.” The only feasible way to have safe sidewalks everywhere in the city, he said, would be “if people are willing to pay higher taxes for it.”
A Boston spokesperson sent a statement saying in part, “The Public Works Department is proud that so far this year, over 14 miles of sidewalks have been reconstructed.” The statement also said more than one billion dollars has been set aside for investments in infrastructure over the next five years, including sidewalks.