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Accessibility issues still plague Augusta sidewalks

Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012 3:43 PM
Last updated 11:04 PM
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Despite upgrades to city infrastructure to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, those affected daily by accessibility issues say broken, cracked sidewalks continue to be a problem.

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Richard Jackson rides down Greene Street with neighbor Karen Wood.Wood walks with Jackson to help him maneuver the broken sidewalks.    SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Richard Jackson rides down Greene Street with neighbor Karen Wood.Wood walks with Jackson to help him maneuver the broken sidewalks.

Richard Jackson, 51, risks navigating his power scooter down the road facing oncoming traffic rather than on sidewalks. Tree roots, broken concrete and other obstacles clutter the pathways and threaten his safety.

“If I hit a bump the wrong way, I can turn over,” Jackson said.

A resident of Maxwell House apartments on Greene Street, Jackson said he would like to see even more upgrades. Just feet from his building’s front door, the corner of Tenth and Greene streets lacks a curb cut and wheelchair ramp to allow a direct street crossing.

Jacqueline Humphrey, who oversees ADA compliance and equal opportunity employment for Augusta, said the city is following ADA guidelines even if residents perceive a problem in some spots. People can file complaints with the city, but she doesn’t know of any currently on file.

“If there is inadequate or no accessibility on an existing or newly built building, we will address those right away,” she said.

In recent years, road construction projects included adding curb cuts and wheelchair ramps as well as large areas of raised bumps that alert the visually impaired when they are approaching the end of a sidewalk and beginning of a road.

Traffic engineer Steve Cassell wouldn’t comment on specific questions regarding ADA compliance, but provided a list of 16 road projects since 2010 where accessibility was improved. Major thoroughfares include Walton Way from Gordon Highway to Jackson Road and segments of Wrightsboro Road, Windsor Spring Road, Reynolds Street and Laney-Walker Boulevard.

One advocate for change, Vietnam veteran Thomas Sauls, said the city has been slow to address an ongoing problem. With a sizeable population of military veterans in Augusta, he fears the broken sidewalks restrict many from enjoying the freedom they fought for.

“When it comes to health and welfare, I don’t just have a case for the vets. I have a case for everyone,” Sauls said, adding that he is losing his sight from diabetes.

But Donald Shapiro, a board member for Walton Rehabilitation Hospital and Walton Foundation, said many complaints about accessibility issues aren’t warranted. Although he agrees that a ride in his wheelchair isn’t always smooth, Shapiro has learned to adjust to the problems.

In front of his store, Hartley’s Uniform Shop on Druid Park Avenue, the sidewalk abruptly ends. When Shapiro wants to get lunch from a nearby restaurant, he crosses the street. Even then, he’s careful to shift weight to his back wheels on an uneven grade and avoid rocks that jam his wheels.

Comments (8) Add comment
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RoadkiII
6445
Points
RoadkiII 02/26/12 - 08:13 pm
1
0
Maybe Charles Walker

Maybe Charles Walker could............. uh, never mind.

Iwannakno
1533
Points
Iwannakno 02/26/12 - 11:51 pm
0
0
No instead of having nice
Unpublished

No instead of having nice sidewalks we have the Marriott TEE center and coming soon...a new multi-purpose mixed use baseball stadium cure all thinga-ma-jig!

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 02/27/12 - 02:55 am
1
0
Try the ones in CC. By the

Try the ones in CC.

By the way, Alaska has a bridge to nowhere. Not to be outdone, Double has installed at numerous intersections in Columbia County a plethora of handicapped access points which connect to no sidewalks at all.

Little Lamb
43989
Points
Little Lamb 02/27/12 - 09:34 am
0
1
No matter how many sidewalks

No matter how many sidewalks the city builds, there will always be someone who complains it is not enough.

I love the illogic of the person in the story. First he says, “If I hit a bump the wrong way, I can turn over.” Then he directs his power scooter down the road facing oncoming traffic! Well, if a car hits him, he can turn over, also.

rperaza
17
Points
rperaza 02/27/12 - 10:58 am
0
0
When I moved here almost 4

When I moved here almost 4 years ago from Orlando, FL I just thought the lack or poor conditions of sidewalks was just due the South's "I don't give a damn" mentality. For being the 2nd largest city in GA, the roadways and sidewalks are only important to make those Masters tourist happy.

Blind Dog Fulton
1
Points
Blind Dog Fulton 02/27/12 - 12:01 pm
1
0
This article was taken from

This article was taken from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration website: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/sidewalk2/sidewalks202.htm

"The ability to participate in community life depends on the ability to travel independently. Virtually every activity that requires people to venture outside of their homes requires the use of pedestrian travel paths, such as sidewalks and trails. Even when relying primarily on automobiles, people still must become pedestrians to get from their automobile into the building or destination. Since the use of sidewalks is essential for performing activities of daily living, such as grocery shopping or errands, access to sidewalks is a right of all individuals. Therefore, it is essential that sidewalk design parameters meet the needs of all potential users across the full spectrum of abilities. Sidewalks are basic to independent living and must meet the highest standards…
While function relates solely to the individual, most of the ICIDH-2 dimensions (activity, participation, and contextual factors) are influenced by the society or environment in which the individual lives. All individuals have the right to fully participate in their community. If neighborhoods do not have a safe, comfortable, and convenient pedestrian system, this can leave people isolated in their own homes and unable to participate in everyday activities. Given the broad influence of environmental factors on the individual's level of function, professionals who design or construct sidewalk or trail environments have a significant influence over whether individuals will be able to use and enjoy the sidewalk and trail environments that they create….

Historically, our society believed that the presence of a disability was a function of the attributes of the individual. As such, it was the responsibility of the individual to change or adapt in order to "fit" into the community. For example, if an individual's legs were paralyzed, the individual was expected to find a different way to walk up a flight of stairs and into a building. However, as the ICIDH classification system demonstrates, activity and participation are not just a function of the individual but a reflection of the community environment in which they live. The installation of stairs with no alternate means of access creates activity and participation limitations for those who are unable to walk up the stairs. When a person's independence is denied because of facilities not being accessible, the person, their family, and society pays the cost of their isolation and dependence…

Our society now recognizes that everyone has the right to have and use pedestrian facilities. Society's recognition of these rights is supported by legislation prohibiting discrimination, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. Designing sidewalk and trail environments to meet the current and future needs of our changing population requires an inclusive design approach. Building pedestrian facilities now and for the future means beginning to address the needs of a broader range of sidewalk and trail users, including older pedestrians, people with disabilities, and children. Just as roadways are designed to suit the needs of all types of vehicles, sidewalks and trails should be designed to accommodate the needs of all pedestrians (Washington State Department of Transportation, 1997)…

Universal design is "an approach to creating environments and products that are usable by all people to the greatest extent possible" (Mace, Hardie & Place, 1991). Instead of designing solutions that benefit only a small target audience (such as, the "standard pedestrian"), universal design emphasizes meeting the needs of all potential users to the greatest extent possible. In addition, universal designs take into consideration the physical, cognitive, emotional, and social changes that each individual experiences over the course of a lifetime."

Universal design encourages and supports the development of facilities that include and are usable by people of all abilities. Providing a ramped entrance to a building at the back door when the front entrance has stairs is not a universal design. Although considered accessible, this solution separates users by their abilities. A universally designed solution would seek to meet the needs of all users by creating access for all through the primary entrance. Successfully addressing the current and future needs of our changing population means incorporating the principles of universal design into all aspects of sidewalk and trail development."

Little Lamb
43989
Points
Little Lamb 02/27/12 - 12:35 pm
0
1
I guess Thomas Jefferson

I guess Thomas Jefferson forgot to add this one to the Declaration, but Blind Dog Fulton has saved the day by informing us:

. . . access to sidewalks is a right of all individuals.

I guess every municipality in the world is violating our civil rights year in and year out and no one is holding them accountable.

In fact, how is it possible for governments to force citizens to build sidewalks to every single place that every single individual would like to walk, roll, or scooter chair? Absurd. But then, that's the Federal Highway Administration for you.

debbiep38
389
Points
debbiep38 02/27/12 - 01:57 pm
0
0
BDF re:11:07 post...WOW!
Unpublished

BDF re:11:07 post...WOW!

paperhearts
99
Points
paperhearts 02/27/12 - 01:57 pm
2
0
Fact is the sidewalks in

Fact is the sidewalks in downtown Augusta are pretty dangerous. I just had a friend trip and fall on Broad st. where the sidewalk was horrible and is still in a brace from the injury. I have tripped before on the sidewalks downtown, and I am not handicapped. It only takes one person to get the bright idea to sue the city for this. I guess I just assume tax money would be alloted for this project or at least the money the DDA gets in would be used for that instead of the incredible amount spent on Christmas lights.

Little Lamb
43989
Points
Little Lamb 02/27/12 - 02:07 pm
0
1
Paperhearts wrote: . . . or

Paperhearts wrote:

. . . or at least the money the DDA gets in would be used for sidewalks. . . .

Well, if Brad Owens were still posting here, he would give you a big thumbs up for that idea. The city could abolish the DDA and apply the money to sidewalk repair. No one would miss the DDA. And if somebody did, the city could just outsource DDA functions to Riverfront LLC.

oldredneckman96
4940
Points
oldredneckman96 11/03/13 - 01:57 am
1
0
Sidewalks
Unpublished

When LLamb is being pushed down the sidewalk in an iron lung due to tobacco's win, LL might change the attitude on ADA. Sidewalks built today have to accomidate everyone. People who put a mail box in the middle of a sidewalk should be jailed for destroying public access.

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