Potholes, sidewalks now being repaired after I-TEAM investigation
Residents say city ignored their complaints about dangerous conditions
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Residents fed up with holes in the road, bumpy pothole patches and busted sidewalks turned to the I-TEAM for help. They said the condition of parts of Old St. Augustine Road had been ignored for far too long -- making the roadway where they live not only difficult to drive, but dangerous as well.
We have been pressing the city for weeks, asking why the problems have lingered for so long on the stretch of road between I-295 and I-95. Now, workers have started patching dips in the road and repairing damaged sidewalks.
Residents turn to I-TEAM for help
Our investigation started when frustrated drivers and homeowners turned to us saying their road and sidewalk needed to be repaired before someone got hurt.
"It's ridiculous," said resident John Johnson when we talked with him last month about two large pieces of sidewalk in front of his property, which he says has been broken and jagged since July.
"This has been here over a couple of months or more and nobody seems to be doing anything about it," Johnson said. "Next thing you know the house will be sinking down in the front with all the water washing down into the hole. It is going to get bigger and bigger."
Not only are there problems with the sidewalk, there's a hole in the road blocking the bike lane that appears to have been neglected for some time and growing.
Add to that more than a dozen pothole patches up and down the road making it a rough ride for drivers.
"The right side lane is extremely horrible," said Ashley Howard. "You are constantly swerving around them."
"It's just one of those situations that no one is really safe on Old St. Augustine Road," added Ruben Sagastume.
The I-TEAM gets results
The I-TEAM took residents' complaints to City Councilman Matt Schellenberg last month, as the road is located in his district.
"What do you make of this hole?" the I-TEAM asked Schellenberg.
"Well, this is unfortunate because we've had a lot of problems over the last seven years or so," he explained.
Schellenberg said the city of Jacksonville neglected roads for years because so much of its budget went to the police and fire pension fund.
"The say we need to do about $15 million a year. We went all the way down to $2 million, so there was a gap of about $13 million a year, so we have a lot of backlog to catch up on," Schellenberg explained.
In fact, he said this specific stretch of Old St. Augustine Road has been patched at least 18 times in the last seven years.
We also showed Schellenberg the broken sidewalk near John Johnson's property.
"I tell people all the time I cannot see everything going on. And just because this has been going on since July, unless they notify me, I have no idea what the problem is," Schellenberg said.
The councilman told the I-TEAM he had no idea the problems were this bad along the sidewalk, and he took pictures as we spoke and sent them to the city's department that repairs them.
"You'll notice there are barricades up so someone from the city must know that this is here. So why haven't they come out to fix it?" we asked Schellenberg.
"I'll find out that part. I don't know, but I'm going to find out. I'm writing this down," he answered.
"Now that we have pointed this out to you, are you going to get something done about it?" the I-TEAM asked.
"I will see what I can do," Schellenberg said.
The I-TEAM also contacted Mayor Lenny Curry's office and sent a picture of the damaged sidewalk. We were surprised when a spokesperson told us the city did not know about it and couldn't give us an explanation about who put up barricades on city property. We are still waiting for clarification.
We also sent Schellenberg and the mayor’s office a picture of another portion of sidewalk we discovered damaged about ¼ mile from John Johnson’s property.
As of now, we noticed crews are repairing it and have dug up two portions of Old St. Augustine Road on either side of Caron Drive -- which had been previously patched. We’ll keep viewers posted as the work progresses.
Copyright 2018 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.