Is Southbank Riverwalk safe for July 4?

Published On: Jul 02 2013 03:31:21 PM EDT
Updated On: Jul 02 2013 09:16:24 PM EDT

In just days, crowds will gather on the deteriorating Southbank Riverwalk to watch Independence Day fireworks. Some are worried the condition of the wood is unsuitable for the crowd - and for their business.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Many people will head to downtown Jacksonville for the Fourth of July, and many will take a stroll on the Southbank Riverwalk.

For the last few years, the Riverwalk has been an eye sore, and it continues to be one. People have been injured and people have sued the city because of problems.

Repair work was suppose to begin this summer. That's been put off until September.

On Thursday, there will be thousands on the Riverwalk enjoying the fireworks, but how safe is it going to be?

IMAGES: Southbank Riverwalk in disrepair

"I don't think its safe for any day," city councilman Don Redman said.

Redman broke his leg on the Riverwalk several years ago because of the condition it was in. He said the city has to make some changes now because it's dangerous.

"It's like ice when it's wet because the wood is old," Redman said. "It has not been taken care of properly. The boards are rotten and coming apart."

Redman is far from alone. Don Shafer, who operates a water taxi, says it's getting worse.

"We are down here every day working, and these docks are falling apart," Shafer said. "We've seen people get hurt down here. People have fallen though the dock because they are in such decrepit condition. It's a matter of they fix it when they have to."

The city has set aside $15 million to tear most of the Riverwalk down and replace the deck with concrete. That was suppose to be happening now but now won't until September.

The city said Tuesday the Riverwalk is safe. But is that really the case?

Channel 4 found some spots with boards not nailed in.

"It's bad," Mario Divasta said. "When I moved over here 20 years ago, it was nice. It was beautiful. It's a shame they did not keep it up."

In another spot, there's a handrail falling apart. But the real danger is nails sticking out and spikes in other places. There is nothing protecting people from them.

And with many people heading down there on Thursday, somebody could get hurt.

"I don't know where the problem is, but I am getting very disgusted with it. I know that," Redman said.

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