THOMASVILLE, N.C. (WGHP) — Potholes, mud and busted gravel are three sidewalk dangers a Thomasville man says he encounters every day while trying to get around in his wheelchair.
Jon Robison uses a motorized wheelchair to get around after massive head trauma left him with limited mobility.
He lives along Randolph Street.
“I can make it down to like Randy’s Mart. After Randy’s Mart, I have to cross the street with all the crazy Thomasville traffic…once you get across the street, that sidewalk ends up running out, and I have to come back across the street,” Robison said.
He zig-zags because he has to. He’s watched the quality of Thomasville’s sidewalks decline, rolling across uneven pavement, debris and trash and trying to pop over steep curbs.
He’s fallen out of his chair multiple times. The thought of falling out at the wrong angle scares him since he’s missing a large piece of his skull.
“If I was to hit my head, I would probably be in a lot of trouble,” Robison said.
Once, he was trying to cross the street in downtown Thomasville near a set of railroad tracks.
“I got stuck on the railroad tracks…luckily, the cop was there, and they were able to push me off the track. It wasn’t but probably until two or three minutes later, here comes the train,” Robison said.
Robison came to FOX8 because he wasn’t sure where to go to get help from the city. He wants repairs for some of the trouble spots along Guilford Street and Randolph Street and understanding from those he shares the sidewalks with.
“Be cautious and try not to get angry with people in wheelchairs. We’re just like every other person. We just try to do the best we can,” Robison said.
FOX8 reached out to city leaders who tell us funding for these repairs is limited.
The city has started to allocate more money for sidewalk repairs this fiscal year with $25,000, which is an increase from $10,000 in previous years.
City crews are currently finishing paving on East and West Guilford Streets which city leaders believe will improve people’s ability to operate a motorized wheelchair on the street.
City Manager Michael Brandt stated in an email to FOX8:
“Over the past couple of years, the City Council has recognized that street and sidewalk repairs and maintenance is an issue that needs to be addressed. The City receives funding from the State to maintain city streets and sidewalks, but it is not enough funding for the many miles of streets we have; The Council raised the tax rate 1-cent and raised the vehicle tax $5 to create additional funding for this work. We are currently paving 6 miles of City streets, and making sidewalk improvements along both Salem St and Stadium drive in anticipation of the opening of the new Aquatics Facility next month.
Even though we have additional funding, the cost of materials keep rising, making it difficult to get ahead. Inflation effects us, too.”–City Manager Michael Brandt