Report: 100 Miles of Fort Lauderdale Sidewalks a Known Hazard

More than 100 miles of Fort Lauderdale sidewalks are known to be a trip-and-fall hazard to pedestrians. That represents nearly a quarter of the city’s 425 miles of sidewalks. Worse, even if you doubled the amount of sidewalk the city does have, it wouldn’t be enough to install sidewalks in all the areas that need it.
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All of this creates a potentially dangerous situation for pedestrians and bicyclists, particularly in the city’s more urban areas. In fact, downtown Fort Lauderdale has some of the worst sidewalks.

This is not merely an issue of aesthetics. According to a recent report by The South Florida Sun Sentinel, the city has shelled out some $250,000 a year – amounting to $1.3 million in the last five years – for trip-and-fall lawsuits brought against the municipality.

But fixing the problem could prove costly as well. The city has spent approximately $750,00 on sidewalk repair over the last five years. Of that, homeowners have reimbursed the city $94,000. That reimbursement is under a little-known ordinance that holds adjacent property owners responsible for the cost to repair the sidewalk in front of their home.

Still, even those efforts have done little to curb the problem. If the city really wanted to fix the one-fourth of its sidewalks that are badly damaged, pock-marked, cracked and uneven, it would have to pay $16 million to do so. If the city wanted to install the 600 miles of additional sidewalk that traffic consultants have recommended, the conservative estimate would be $100 million.

As of right now, the city manager is recommending putting $2.1 million of the city’s risk insurance fund toward addressing some of the more severe problems. Namely, that effort would focus on bad walking surfaces in front of hospitals and schools, as well as the downtown corridor and also some specific areas where authorities have found severe damage as a result of tree roots muscling through the concrete.

Our Fort Lauderdale injury lawyers know that last issue is largely one of the city’s own making. Years ago, there was a well-intentioned effort by city leaders to plant the free trees it was giving away in the swales in front of their homes. The goal was to create a city that was shaded in a beautiful green canopy, which would provide shade under the sidewalks and streets. The program was popular. Now, there is more green. However, some of that is the result of grass and tree roots pushing up through the sidewalk. The trees the city was giving away were large oak trees, and the roots in some cases had nowhere to go but up.

The city is continuing with its tree initiatives, but it’s more focused on planting smaller-growing trees in swales that are narrower.

City manager has said if the $2.1 million deal is approved, it would tackle 14 percent of the problem, and would greatly reduce slip-and-fall claims because it focuses on the most heavily-trafficked areas.

Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.

Additional Resources:
Lauderdale has 106 miles worth of bad sidewalks, Oct. 9, 2015, By Larry Barszewski, Sun-Sentinel
More Blog Entries:
Florida Car Accident Recovery Grueling, Effects Lasting, Oct. 18, 2015, Fort Lauderdale Pedestrian Accident Attorney Blog