2009 Settlement with Justice Department requires City of Atlanta to install curb ramps
Have you noticed resurfaced streets that lack curb ramps? If so, you’re not alone.
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires government agencies to install ramps wherever a curb creates barriers to sidewalks and intersections. It also requires sidewalks to be accessible to all users.
The U.S. Access Board audited the City of Atlanta in 2009. It’s findings: city streets violated numerous ADA requirements .
Most important to pedestrians: Atlanta had failed to install curb ramps at many intersections when it resurfaced streets since the Americans with Disabilities Act went into effect in 1992.
The City of Atlanta settled with the U.S. Justice Department by agreeing to install or repair curb ramps by 2012 on all streets that had been resurfaced since 1992.
The deadline expired four years ago, yet few ramps have been installed.
Transparency is essential, and you can count on us to hold the City of Atlanta accountable.
Renew Atlanta program
Atlanta’s Renew Atlanta bonds, which voters approved in 2015, dedicated $5 million to curb ramps. Better than nothing, but far less than the estimated $32 million need shown in the 2010 State of the City’s Infrastructure and Fleet Inventory report.
The Renew program is well underway. Street and sidewalk maintenance are essential government responsibilities – and we’re pleased to see that numerous streets have been resurfaced.
Initially, however, many resurfaced streets lack well-designed curb ramps. Sally Flocks, President & CEO of PEDS, serves on the Renew Atlanta and T-SPLOST Technical Advisory Committee. When she raised this issue at meetings in 2015, Public Works Commissioner Richard Mendoza promised that ramps are coming. The city is using two different contractors, he explained. One is assigned to asphalt. The other to concrete projects.
Using separate contractors is fine. Lack of coordination isn’t.
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that curb ramp work be completed prior to or at the same time as the rest of the project.
On Renew Atlanta projects, missing curb ramps are no longer be a problem.
Thanks to the efforts of Renew Atlanta Program Manager Faye Dimassimo, project managers and field engineers are now cutting curbs, not corners. In response to Sally’s request, she told them no resurfacing project should start prior to the completion of ADA ramps and curb repairs.
When you speak with mayoral or City Council candidates, please ask them to invest in improvements that increase the quality of life for people who live here. Making streets and sidewalks accessible to people with disabilities also makes them better serve everyone who walks.