Category: In The News

Funding ADA infrastructure with TAP Funds

Franklin County Mo, Courthouse

Ensuring infrastructure such as sidewalks, curb ramps, and buildings are in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards are major issues for many states and localities across the nation. While good work is being done to create paths and spaces accessible to all, many municipalities are discovering that funding poses a major barrier to their efforts.

The Federal Surface Transportation Program provides funding to States and localities for transit capital projects like roads, bridges, and highways.  Unfortunately there are frequently more projects than money to go around. Cooperation among localities can be key to creating the most favorable conditions of approval for the most needed projects.  “At the Oct. 24 Franklin County Transportation Committee meeting, Union City Engineer Jonathan Zimmermann requested that cities in the county, other than Union, not seek Surface Transportation Program (STP) and Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) grant funding.”  The hope is, by limiting grant requests to the East-West Gateway Council of Governments (EWGW) to a sole project, the Highway 47 and Highway 50 improvement project would be awarded funds by default.

While it may seem unfortunate or unfair that these requests be made, in this situation at least, it is an idea that has wide support.  Fortunately STP funds are not the only source of money, provided the localities have been proactive with related requirements, such as having an up-to-date ADA  transition plan.

The Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside program authorizes funding for programs and projects including on- and off-road pedestrian and bicycle facilities, infrastructure projects for improving non-driver access to public transportation and enhanced mobility, in addition to many other projects in the public right-of-way.  According to John Nilges, The City of Washington’s public works director, “the city has an advantage [in seeking TAP funds] over many other communities in the EWGW region because it has an Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) transition plan.”

With increasing scrutiny around ADA compliance and funding being tied more closely to compliance with federal requirements in general.  Compliance work in creating an accessible and equitable community for all is critically important to bettering people’s lives and obtaining much needed funding for States and localities.

Source: City Still to Seek Grant for Sidewalks — Won’t Interfere With Request
By: Gregg Jones, Missourian Staff Writer, Nov 3, 2019
http://www.emissourian.com/local_news/county/city-still-to-seek-grant-for-sidewalks-won-t-interfere/article_312abc12-fcd4-11e9-afab-1fc732c616e2.html

El Paso County Releases Draft ADA Transition Plan

El Paso County Judicial Complex

Across the nation, federal investigators are continuing their audits of municipalities for ADA violations. From curb ramps and sidewalks to facilities and services, many cities and counties are taking the necessary steps to identify their barriers and update their transition plans.

El Paso County, Colorado, recently completed an ambitious effort with a draft transition plan to set the foundation of their ADA compliance initiative.  “El Paso County is committed to full and equal opportunity for all its citizens, including individuals with disabilities,” said Vince Maciunskas, Infrastructure Project Manager. “The County recognizes that its community’s continued vitality, strength and vibrancy results from the valuable contributions from the entire community.”

El Paso County’s work is critically important to creating an accessible and equitable community for all. For those that haven’t made it a priority, the DOJ is imposing fines of several million dollars and has frozen federal funding from other agencies.

Source: El PAso County Public Notice, October 24, 2019

https://www.elpasoco.com/seeking-public-comment-ada-transition-plan/

City of Fresno Leads Accessibility Compliance with Small Businesses

Fresno City Skyline

Over the past 29 years, the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) has led thousands of accessibility initiatives in communities across the country. In some of the best cases, local cities have worked with their small businesses to ensure compliance with street parking, along sidewalks, and into the business itself. Recently, the City of Fresno created the Accessible Fresno Small Business Initiative to help its small business community get into compliance with the ADA.

“The challenge is satisfying everyone without destroying the business. The cost of ADA compliance can be onerous for businesses, especially the small ones. The cost of settling an ADA lawsuit can be onerous, as well. The cost of losing an ADA lawsuit can be devastating. At the same time, people with disabilities have a legal right to full participation in America’s public life.”

Public-private partnerships like this are not just reducing legal risks and helping small business owners, but also taking some of the sting out of compliance. In the end, this project is a win-win for the City of Fresno and its business community by helping create a more inclusive, accessible and welcoming environment for everyone. How can partnerships like this make a positive impact on the lives of people of all abilities where you live and do business?

Source: Fresno looks to help small businesses navigate ADA headaches
By: George Hostetter, October 22, 2019
http://sjvsun.com/news/fresno/fresno-looks-to-help-small-businesses-navigate-ada-headaches/

New Hampshire Governor’s Accessibility Award goes to The Nature Conservancy

The new accessible trail in the Ossipee Pine Barrens

The new accessible trail in the Ossipee Pine Barrens. Photo by Jeff Lougee

Connecting with nature is a path to healing and positive growth for many people.  Creating the infrastructure to help make natural spaces accessible to people of all abilities is an ambitious and worthy effort we can all support.  In recognition of this kind of work, the “New Hampshire Governor’s Commission on Disability recently honored The Nature Conservancy in New Hampshire for the creation of an accessible trail at the Ossipee Pine Barrens Preserve.”

The individuals and organizations chosen to receive the Governor’s Accessibility Award are recognized for their initiatives that embody the mission of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Awards like these are a great way for public officials to highlight the important work of private and non-profit organizations in helping create accessible communities.  

Source:
Nature Conservancy wins Governor’s Accessibility Award 
By: Staff Writer Sep 24, 2019 Updated Sep 25, 2019
https://www.conwaydailysun.com/business/local/nature-conservancy-wins-governor-s-accessibility-award/article_19f10440-dbc1-11e9-9da3-2b97d479c6d8.html

San Diego, Balancing City Initiatives and ADA Accessibility

San Diego North Park sign at dusk

The City of San Diego, like many others, is working to improve its transportation infrastructure and reduce its carbon footprint. With initiatives like the City’s Climate Action Plan and Vision Zero project, they are taking these challenge head on. However, some worry that ADA accessibility may take a back seat during these and other projects like the upcoming 30th Street Protected Bikeways Mobility Project in North Park.

According to Christina Chadwick, senior press secretary for the mayor’s office, “The project will, without question, be consistent with all legally-required and applicable laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act. Safe and accessible infrastructure for all residents, including those with disabilities, is a priority for the City.” Some are rightfully questioning if meeting legal requirements is the best the City can do. Disability rights advocate Kent Rodricks said, “The key for me in this scenario is proximity, proximity. I need to be the closest that I can be to the major points of interest.”  While both sides recognize the need to work together to find a mutually agreeable solution, it falls on the City’s Mobility Board to make recommendations relating to the development and maintenance of ADA accessibility.

Facilitating discussions with stakeholders and working toward compromise is a difficult yet sensible path. When long-term projects are under review, it just makes sense to take the time to analyze the impacts on the entire community and seek public comment. These spaces are for everyone, of every ability, and should be designed as such.

Source:
Disability advocates urge San Diego to consider impact of North Park parking project on accessibility
By ANDREA LOPEZ-VILLAFAÑA AUG. 22, 2019 6:05 PM, The San Diego Union-Tribune
https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/communities/san-diego/story/2019-08-22/disability-advocates-urge-san-diego-to-consider-impact-of-north-park-parking-project-on-accessibility

$30M and 17 years for ADA compliant sidewalks in Springfield, MO

Sidewalk without a curb ramp

Ensuring sidewalks and curbs ramps are in compliance with ADA standards is good practice, and not just because it is the law. Gentle slopes, well defined landings and wide smooth pathways are all convenient for the able user, but they are essential elements for people with disabilities.  While much work has been done across the nation, many municipalities are discovering that large portions of their public right-of-ways are not in compliance with ADA.

The City of Springfield, Missouri, is no exception. “Starting in December 2017, the city conducted an eight-month survey of sidewalk and curb condition and compliance that showed just 40 percent of sidewalks were in the goal range of “good” or “very good” condition. The rest were “fair,” “marginal,” “poor” or, in 8 percent of cases, “very poor.”  Nearly 10,300 curb ramps were included in the survey as well with similar results. Now that the City understands is problem areas, it’s planning to fix them. Over the next 17 years, the City of Springfield will invest $30 million to fix its curb ramps and sidewalks.

For many municipalities, fixing public right-of-way barriers seems like an arduous task, but working to identify barriers is a critical first step to understanding where their needs are and integrating them into existing capital improvement projects.

Source:
Springfield has a $30M, 17-year plan to make hundreds of city sidewalks ADA compliant
Katie Kull, Springfield News-Leader August 18, 2019
https://www.news-leader.com/story/news/local/ozarks/2019/08/19/springfield-spend-millions-plan-make-sidewalks-ada-compliant/2030215001/

E-Scooters and Mopeds Are Barriers In some Cases

E-Sccoters on Sidewalk

Dock-less E-scooters have arrived in most major cities.  Some people see them as a great solution to congested streets and reducing emissions.  Others see them as an eyesore and want them banned or their use restricted. Most of us would simply like to see them used and most parked more responsibly.  An E-scooter left in the middle of a public walkway is a barrier to those with limited mobility and a potential tripping hazard to anyone, especially those with low vision.  

In Washington DC, residents and the city are working together to find a solution to the unintended consequences of the E-scooter revolution.  The city recently announced it will add electric mopeds to its roster of shareable vehicles. According to Deborah Barnes, who is in a wheelchair and has low vision, “A lot of times the sidewalks are narrow and there’s a scooter blocking me which means that I have to go all the way back to the beginning of the block, cross the street at the curb cut, and then come back down on the other side.”  The city is working to resolve the concerns.  “We have provided parking for dock-less scooters and bikes, to include over 400 bike racks and in-street corrals at 20 locations across the District. We’ve added new requirements as necessary, including a “lock-to” requirement last fall, requiring dock-less bikes to be tethered to a bike rack or other street furniture,” said Department of Transportation Director Jeff Marootian.

E-scooters are here to stay.  City managers would do well to assess unintended consequences of new technologies and changes in general modes of transportation.  Perhaps more importantly, those using these services should take a little time to consider where they are leaving these scooters; keeping in mind how it may impact others who also want to get around their city with efficiency too. 

Source:
Ines de La Cuetara, WUSA 9 News 5:27 PM EDT August 12, 2019
https://www.wusa9.com/article/news/washingtonians-with-disabilities-worried-about-dockless-mopeds/65-d5b6f9ca-2df9-477c-b2aa-467d86496998

New York City Settlement requires survey of 162,000 sidewalk curbs

vehicles traveling on road near buildings during daytime in New York City

Photo by Toni Osmundson on Unsplash

Accessible public right-of-ways are good for everyone. Gentle slopes, well defined landings and wide smooth pathways are all convenient for the able user. However, for some, they are more than convenient, they provide a path to independence that would otherwise be unattainable.  

In New York City, municipal administrators are starting important work to identify inaccessible sidewalks and curbs, and integrate them into a remediation plan. This work follows the resolution to two lawsuits. “U.S. District Court Judge George B. Daniels gave the final approval of a class action settlement resolving two separate lawsuits—the first filed by the United Spinal Association and the second by the Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York (CIDNY)—and establishing a plan that will require citywide surveys of all ramps and identify which corners need curb cuts installed or upgraded.”

ADA compliance issues and lawsuits are becoming more common by the day. Municipalities have a choice to be proactive and move toward compliance and inclusiveness, or become the targets of lawsuits and DOJ investigations.

Source:
City to make more sidewalk curbs accessible
Lizeth Beltran, Crain’s New York Business  
July 23, 2019

https://www.crainsnewyork.com/transportation/city-make-more-sidewalk-curbs-accessible

 

Dutchess County, NY, Awards $112,000 of Accessibility Grants

Dutches County Courthouse, brick building with grey moldings and trim

By Daniel Case, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3357429

Funding public works can be challenging, even more so for smaller cities and towns. However, with a little effort and resolve, ways and means are found.  

Today, we feature Dutchess County, New York, and their 2019 Municipal Innovation Grant Program. The program is a great example of helping smaller municipalities cope with the costs of improving accessibility for everyone and ensuring compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.  County Executive Marc Molinaro said in a recent bulletin, “Dutchess County’s pledge to ‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY’ about our friends and neighbors living with disabilities is unparalleled, and these grant awards are the latest fulfillment of that promise.”

We here at BlueDAG hope to see more initiatives like the Dutchess County 2019 Municipal Innovation Grant Program in the future. Don’t you?

Source
Molinaro Announces $112,000 in Accessibility Awards
Dutchess County Bulletin
July 26, 2019
https://bit.ly/31dHPuT

Seguin City Council Unanimously Approves BlueDAG for ADA Support

The City of Seguin, Texas, is the latest municipality to take the challenge of ADA compliance head on with the support of BlueDAG.  “While the City of Seguin changed its policies to ensure new street and sidewalk projects meet ADA code, and made other city projects ADA compliant such as Park West, it has never formally adopted a transition plan”, Seguin City Attorney Andy Quittner said.   BlueDAG provides municipalities with a robust set of tools that help identify and manage ADA barriers, and seamlessly integrate them into a living transition plan. Many local governments are developing their ADA transition plans to ensure their communities are accessible to all and in compliance with Title II requirements.   All of us at BlueDAG look forward to working with another group of dedicated public servants to help create an accessible and inclusive community.  Source: City to create ADA plans for facilities Valerie Bustamante, The Seguin Gazette July 5, 2019 http://seguingazette.com/alert/article_794f923a-9ddc-11e9-acbb-57c322c8e3a5.html

The City of Seguin, Texas, is the latest municipality to take the challenge of ADA compliance head on with the support of BlueDAG.  “While the City of Seguin changed its policies to ensure new street and sidewalk projects meet ADA code, and made other city projects ADA compliant such as Park West, it has never formally adopted a transition plan”, Seguin City Attorney Andy Quittner said. 

BlueDAG provides municipalities with a robust set of tools that help identify and manage ADA barriers, and seamlessly integrate them into a living transition plan. Many local governments are developing their ADA transition plans to ensure their communities are accessible to all and in compliance with Title II requirements. 

All of us at BlueDAG look forward to working with another group of dedicated public servants to help create an accessible and inclusive community.

Source:
City to create ADA plans for facilities
Valerie Bustamante, The Seguin Gazette
July 5, 2019
http://seguingazette.com/alert/article_794f923a-9ddc-11e9-acbb-57c322c8e3a5.html

 

Scroll to top
Font Resize
Contrast