Sidewalks, curbs, walkways to be more accessible

December 22, 2009 7:24:00 PM PST
Disabled Californians are celebrating a landmark settlement. Caltrans has agreed to spend more than $1 billion over the next 30 years to modify sidewalks and walkways, making them more accessible.

Along 2,500 miles of sidewalk, Caltrans will begin fixing broken sections and widening sidewalks where there are obstacles to the disabled. They will install 10,000 new curb ramps and upgrade 50,000 existing ones.

"This is a wonderful day for people with disabilities because the leading transportation provider in the state, Caltrans, finally living up to its obligations," said Laurence Paradis from Disability Rights Advocates.

"This is a win-win situation for everyone. It brings access sooner for people with disabilities and litigation would be more costly in the long run," said Caltrans spokesperson Lauren Wonder.

Caltrans is committed to spend $25 million next year and $1.1 billion over the next 30 years.

Attorneys for Caltrans said today that some rehabilitation projects on roads and bridges would have to be curtailed to fund the disabilities project.

"We're talking about what is the main street through many cities and towns up and down California," said Paradis.

Caltrans sidewalk repair would include streets like Ashby Avenue and San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley, along overpasses and underpasses on Highway 4 in Contra Costa County, portions of Van Ness and 19th Street in San Francisco and along El Camino Real in the South Bay.

Citizens will have a chance to report problem spots to Caltrans before work begins next summer.

California Council for the Blind and Californians for Disability Rights are the two agencies who filed the lawsuit.

They hope Caltrans sets a new standard and the announcement puts pressure on cities and counties make similar improvements to their local sidewalk systems.


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