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'We Need More Inspectors': Philadelphia's Construction Complicating Pedestrians' Commute

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – For residents who live or work in Philadelphia, the odds are construction blocking sidewalks have left them nowhere to walk. Nowadays, it's not easy being a pedestrian in Center City.

Philadelphia's construction boom has led to a bust of sorts, at least for those that like to get around on two feet. Sidewalks are blocked, intersections are closed and it's just a general hassle to talk from Point A to Point B.

"We just make due, look both ways and hope for the best," one Philadelphian said.

"With all the construction constricting the sidewalk," another said, "it's hard for people to pass one another."

"It's definitely a maze," another person said.

But there is a team of inspectors that the city employs meant to make that maze a little easier to navigate. Meet Fred Miami, a construction engineer for the city's street department.

(Credit: CBS3)

Miami is a supervisor for the right of way unit, a team of six responsible for patrolling the entire city and ensuring the 20,000 permits issued in 2018 are properly being used.

"Six people," Miami said. "That's just the stuff we know about. It's all the other stuff we find and stumble upon."

For example, a sidewalk closure without a permit or the time a plumber was digging under an active street without anyone's knowledge.

"Cars driving over and they're working below," Miami said. "And it was a shock for us, L&I, everybody."

Miami says each of his six inspectors is assigned to a different region of the city. Each person can get through about 20 work orders per day, which leaves quite the backlog.

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It was at 4,600 at last check.

"Every week, there is another 800 coming up," Miami said. "So as we're nipping away, that much more is coming in."

"We need more inspectors. We need to make sure if we're going to do this, we're going to do it right and everyone in the neighborhood isn't inconvenienced," a Philadelphia woman said.

Miami says he needs about 24 inspectors, but knows that isn't going to happen. But he did tell Eyewitness News that they'll be hiring soon.

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