PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A recent poll revealed that sidewalks are one of the biggest concerns for residents and business owners in Providence.
The community satisfaction survey showed that 71% of residents and 69% of business owners are not satisfied with the condition of sidewalks and roads.
Mayor Brett Smiley told 12 News that sidewalks are a “long-neglected issue,” which has resulted in a backlog of requests for repairs.
“The backlog is in the thousands,” Smiley said. “And it has become really discouraging for homeowners and residents in particular who submitted a sidewalk request years ago and just kind of threw their hands up and said, ’Ugh, this is never going to get fixed.’”
The city budget signed into law earlier this summer included $193,000 for sidewalk improvements.
Smiley said the city is aiming to make repairs to long stretches of sidewalks in the busiest areas all at once, while separately targeting dangerous spots that are more isolated.
“It’s going to take a couple of years,” he added. “But it’s a priority of our residents. It’s a priority of our business owners and it’s a priority of my administration.”
In the short term, Smiley said crews will address problem areas to make sure people can safely walk or ride over them in wheelchairs.
Residents can flag broken sidewalks or other problems with roads, garbage, traffic lights or general quality-of-life issues through a city app called PVD311.
The community satisfaction survey also revealed that people are split on how they feel about the overall look of the city. Smiley said while that could mean many things, the city is taking steps to address graffiti removal and trash. He told 12 News a trash pilot program will target commercial areas, especially ones with restaurants.
“We’re going to be trying several strategies to see what works best so that in next year’s budget, we can turn what is hopefully a successful pilot program into a sustained program to help with garbage on our commercial strips,” he said.