Audit finds issue with sidewalks ramps along Oregon highways
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A majority of sidewalk ramps along Oregon highways do not comply with guidelines under the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to a survey.
The audit by the Oregon Department of Transportation was part of a settlement with Disability Rights Oregon, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported Friday.
The survey found that 97 percent of the 26,000 curb ramps inspected do not comply with ADA access guidelines.
Ten Oregon counties lacked a single compliant ramp, according to the preliminary results of the survey.
Transportation department officials are still verifying the accuracy of the survey’s findings, they said.
Disability Rights Oregon, an advocacy group for people who are disabled, sued the state last year over inadequate curb ramps and crossings.
The department has failed to install proper curb ramps during construction and maintenance projects, the group said.
The survey shows the department’s ongoing lack of attention to adequate curb ramps, said Tom Stenson, a lawyer with the group.
“Their culture is that the ADA is something to get around,” he said. “It’s an agency that wants to build highways and sees this as sort of a distraction.”
Without ADA-compliant curb ramps, people with disabilities have a hard time getting around, especially those who live in rural areas where they need to cross state highways to reach supermarkets, post offices and civic services, Stenson said.
As part of the settlement, the transportation department agreed to invest $23 million into curb ramps upgrades in 2017 and 2018, and upgrade all inadequate ramps by 2032.
It has brought on an accessibility consultant to review its practices, said Lisa Strader, the department’s program manager.
The department also agreed to look at crosswalk buttons, which several disabilities advocates argue are hard to reach safely for people sitting on wheelchairs.
“ODOT is committed to a safe and accessible transportation system for all users,” Strader said in an email. “We will provide that through all of ODOT’s ADA work, including the work under the settlement agreement.”
Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive, http://www.oregonlive.com