Mercy Modot

Contractors on the new Highway 47 bridge at Washington got a chance to see the world from the perspective of individuals in wheelchairs.

Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) Area Engineer Judy Wagner titled the exercise the “ADA Experience.”

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in 1990. The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.

The exercise Monday gave contractors and city of Washington staff working on the new bridge and sidewalk projects a firsthand experience of how difficult it can sometimes be to travel in a wheelchair on public sidewalks and other areas.

As part of the exercise, workers used wheelchairs to navigate the sidewalks and crosswalks outside the Emergency Room of Mercy Hospital Washington at the intersection of Highway 47 and Third Street.

The experience was eye-opening for many who participated, highlighting how even the slightest hill or obstacle can be overwhelming and even dangerous.

“More and more people are becoming dependent on wheelchairs,” Wagner said. “We want them to feel as free as everyone else.”

Wagner said this is the first time an exercise like this has been conducted for both MoDOT and project contractors and she was pleased with the results.

In addition to educating those who will be building the sidewalks, the exercise is also a message to those who use the ADA routes that all of the new sidewalks and walking trails associated with the new bridge will be 100 percent in compliance.

Since Monday, Aug. 20, there have been sidewalk and trail closures near the bridge project extending up to Third Street.

All pedestrians are asked to adhere to closure signs to safely navigate the area.

Included in the exercise Monday were MoDOT engineers, Mercy Hospital Washington President Eric Eoloff, city of Washington staff and bridge project supervisors.