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Monday, February 23, 2009

Madison Sidewalk Ramps: Long Way to Go for ADA

The Madison City Commission comes back from its hiatus (no meeting last week due to lack of agenda items—always nice when there aren't enough problems to warrant governing) to discuss, among other things, sidewalks. Tonight's agenda packet includes (pp. 11–13) City Engineer Chad Comes's evaluation of our compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Specifically, the city will look at our progress in getting our sidewalks up to ADA snuff.

We've been doing all right, installing about 36 new sidewalk ramps a year. Comes says the city has some money available outside the planned sidewalk budget to respond to special requests for ramps (so if you're on pedestrian wheels and there's a curb you've been bumping over, give Chad a call!).

But even if we put in ramps at better than the expected 36 per year, we have a ways to go in rampifying our sidewalks. (Statistic of the day!): Comes reports that Madison currently has 1061 locations where sidewalk meets road. 74 for them fulfill ADA standards. 620 of those intersections have ramps but fail to meet all the standards. 367 are just plain not accessible.

Now 131 of those sidewalk-road intersections are along state highway, where the city says the state should bear the cost of the any ramp installation or upgrade. (Maybe the stimulus striping crew can bring jackhammers and bust out the curbs on their way by.) But we're also requiring homeowners to put in more sidewalks around town, which will require more ramps. So at current rates, it could take 10 years just to upgrade the non-accessible intersections. Lots of work to do!


  1. There are two ways to look at the ADA sidewalk ramp requirements. It is certainly helpful to those in wheelchairs or unable to lift their legs much while walking, but it also causes injuries to those who walk normally.

    Case in point: The handicap parking space in front of the Post Office has a curb cut in the middle of the sidewalk, that when covered with snow, causes normally walking folks to slip and fall because you can't see it. Might even be an issue at night.

    If you're walking along and hit that dip in the sidewalk, you can hurt your back, fall and hurt your hip, shoulder or leg, twist an ankle or even hit your head. Perhaps allowing handicap curb ramps only on corners rather than in the middle of a walkway would solve that issue.

  2. Leave a message on his answering machine and send him an e-mail, too, while you're at it, but don't hold your breath.


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