JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

The 25-year Southbank Riverwalk is long overdue for an overhaul, yet the last safety inspection was five years ago.

Asked Thursday if the Riverwalk is safe, Jacksonville Public Works Director Jim Robinson said: "It's hard to give an answer."

"There are no red flags at this time," Robinson told Channel 4's Jim Piggott. "People need to be extra safe. There is no anticipation of immediate collapse."

The report dated September 2007 found loose boards and trip hazards on the walkway, and underneath, the majority of pilings 30 to 40 percent deteriorated.

The city has marked off some areas to keep people out, but Piggott found stairs still in use deteriorating, support beams separating, rusting bolts and hardware and other obvious signs of deterioration.

IMAGES:  Deteriorating Southbank Riverwalk
DOCUMENT:  2007 Southbank Riverwalk inspection

Nearly two years ago $17 million was set aside for repairs to the Riverwalk and work was to have started last year, but the city says it is stalled because the Crown Plaza Hotel says it will disrupt its business.

"The project had been funded for some time and continues to deteriorate both underwater and the surface that we walk on," said City Councilwoman Lori Boyer. "I'm concerned its becoming a trip hazard. It's a real amenity for the city and we want it to retain its usefulness."

The city says it is close to working out a deal with Southbank businesses and Robinson said construction should begin by the end of the year.