To bring every sidewalk, crosswalk and curb ramp in Washington into compliance with federal standards is estimated to cost $7,464,649.
The findings of an American with Disabilities Act (ADA) transition plan were presented to city leaders Tuesday. The plan was commissioned to give the city a boost in scoring when applying for federal Surface Transportation Program (STP) grants.
But city officials were quick to point out that noncompliant sidewalks does not mean they are unsafe.
According to John Nilges, the city’s public services director, there is a stark difference between ADA-compliant sidewalks and safe sidewalks.
For example, 96 percent of the sidewalks in Downtown Washington are noncompliant, but most are not hazards.
“The safety of all citizens is our No. 1 priority, and we are doing everything to promote safe sidewalks,” Nilges commented. “That is evident by our sidewalk panel leveling, removal and addition of crosswalk striping, modifications to crosswalk locations, replacement of hazardous sidewalks, and construction of new ADA-compliant sidewalks.”
He explained there are several factors that make sidewalks noncompliant, that includes settling of the ground below the concrete that changes the slope, changes to the ADA standards and the age of the sidewalks.
“When the majority of our pedestrian facilities were constructed over 40-50 years ago, there was no ADA standard,” Nilges added. “It takes time to become compliant, and this evaluation and plan provides us with a required tool to effectively and quickly meet the goals of the city.”
He explained the ADA plan is a “living document” and there is no intention to tackle the entire cost at once, but bringing sidewalks into compliance will be incorporated into a long-range plan over the next several years.
The Washington City Council is expected to vote on a resolution approving the ADA plan ahead of the application deadline for the Surface Transportation Program (STP) project to resurface Third Street.
The ADA transition plan was developed by HDR Engineering Inc. and engineers walked the downtown streets to determine the sidewalks slopes and other factors. They also used aerial views of the city to determine the compliance of sidewalks outside the downtown area.
Kevin Kriete, HDR Engineering, offered an example of Market Street, which to the naked eye, the sidewalks are in excellent condition. However, they don’t meet ADA standards because there is too great of a slope.
Nilges said the city will develop a schedule to bring all sidewalks into compliance, it is key to have the ADA plan in place so the city will be scored higher when seeking STP grants.
The resolution proposed for Monday should be adequate to garner more points for the city’s Third Street application due June 14
STP grants are administered through the East-West Gateway Council of Government (EWGW) and funded through the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) and the federal government.
EWGW utilizes a point system to recommend funding for STP grants. Sidewalks and bike paths weigh more heavily on the overall score now than in the past.
“If we don’t have this finalized, I think we take a hit,” Nilges said.
Included in the proposed transition plan were 11 city facilities. Each facility was evaluated for paths between provided parking spaces and building entrances, access to goods and services, restrooms and public access and additional access.
It would cost $237,450 to bring each facility into full compliance, according to the HDR Engineering report.