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Latrobe considers temporary fix to make curbs handicapped-friendly

September 23, 2018

Traffic waits to turn right from Depot Street onto Ligonier Street on Aug. 27, 2018, in Latrobe. At left is a curb at the intersection that city officials are considering grinding down to make it easier for handicapped pedestrians to get onto the sidewalk.

Sidewalk ramps in downtown Latrobe that have become an obstacle for at least one handicapped resident could be fixed sooner rather than later.

Ramps at Jefferson and Main streets and at Ligonier and Depot streets, along with a number of others at major city intersections, are to get updates that comply with current federal handicapped-accessibility standards. PennDOT is set to undertake that work beginning later next year, as part of improvements to Latrobe intersections and traffic signals.

But, at the repeated urging of city resident David Moyher, council is considering an earlier, temporary fix.

Public works Director Michael Gray told council Monday a firm could be hired to grind down selected curb ramps, eliminating the 1-inch lips that have proven a hindrance for Moyher while navigating in his wheelchair from his apartment on Jefferson Street to the Rite Aid drug store at Ligonier and Depot.

Gray said he would seek quotes for the work, citing an initial estimate of $500 for each of seven curb ramps that need to be recontoured.

“A year is a long time to wait,” Mayor Rosie Wolford said of the PennDOT project. “I think we have a responsibility to people who have disabilities and can’t get around our town.”

She noted that an investment in the project of between $3,000 and $4,000 wouldn’t be unreasonable from the city’s $5 million annual budget.

After checking with a state official versed in requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Gray said it is possible for the city to grind down the ramps and some of the surrounding sidewalk without violating those standards. “We were reassured it’s not going to be a liability issue as long as you don’t increase the slope more than 13 percent,” he said.

Some cement might have to be patched to complete the job, he said.

Given changing seasonal temperatures, Councilman Robert Forish expressed doubt that the proposed curb fix would hold up until PennDOT starts its work next year. “If it makes it through the winter, we’ll be lucky,” he said.

Gray noted a layer of cement might have to be reapplied. “With any type of patch job that you do, it has the problem where it could crack again,” he said.

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