Missing sidewalk impacts disabled man’s mobility

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — A Chesapeake man called 10 On Your Side for help because he says he’s lost a part of his daily freedom: the ability to get to and from nearby businesses.

Earl Kirby, who is legally blind and uses a power wheelchair, is frustrated by the sidewalk near his home being removed.

Photos: Chesapeake project closes sidewalk

For as long as he’s lived in the neighborhood along Great Bridge Boulevard, Kirby has enjoyed making daily trips to the nearby Dominion Boulevard Marketplace. But about a week and a half ago, he literally ran into a problem.

“I was going down the sidewalk and there was a barrel in the way,” he said. “And I said, ‘what in the world is this barrel here for?'”

The sidewalk near Kirby’s home — at the intersection of Great Bridge Boulevard and Fernwood Farms Road — has been removed for construction related to the Dominion Boulevard Improvement Project. Chesapeake Public Works spokeswoman Elizabeth Vaughn said crews are currently moving underground utilities.

Without that sidewalk, Kirby said he has no way to get to the grocery store and other businesses. He said he has been forced to travel along the side of the road, but admits he hasn’t made the trip much in the last two weeks.

Neighbors, who know Kirby from seeing him go to and from the shopping center, said they would like to see a temporary sidewalk installed.

Vaughn said the sidewalk will be rebuilt. The sidewalk on one side of Great Bridge Boulevard is scheduled to be complete by mid-February. However, winter weather could delay the process. Vaughn is working on a full schedule of the sidewalk construction. She also said the public works department will work with Kirby on a safer, alternate route.

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