Some handicapped parking spaces fixed, others remain inadequate

 

The Lowe’s and Walmart on Bobby Jones Expressway have restriped three handicapped parking spaces after a site inspection by The Augusta Chronicle last month found the spots failed to satisfy the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The newspaper’s informal survey also revealed three other retailers in Richmond and Columbia counties had handicapped parking spaces that were either improperly marked, had slopes too steep for vehicular wheelchair lifts or no access aisles at all, each a violation of federal code.

Those businesses – which include the Augusta Mall, Toys R Us on Wrightsboro Road and Chili’s on Robert C. Daniel Parkway – have not remedied or addressed any of the violations.

Lowe’s had two van-accessible handicap parking spaces that lacked marked access aisles and was the first to bring defective spots up to ADA code, which according to 2010 standards require access aisles to “be marked so as to discourage parking in them.”

Walmart, which had an access aisle for a handicap parking space marked “Van-Accessible” at the head of the spot, moved the loading zone “adjacent and parallel” to the spot’s vehicle pull-up space as required by law. Kayla Whaling, spokeswoman for Walmart, said all spaces are in compliance with ADA.

The handicapped parking spaces still in violation of federal law are:

• A ramp 5 inches tall, 74 inches long covering a handicapped parking space access aisle outside the Augusta Mall’s children’s play area.

ADA standards mandate that handicapped parking spaces and access aisles must be “level with surface slopes not exceeding 2 percent in all directions.”

On-site measurements with a tape measurer and a calculator found that when the height of the ramp, 5 inches, is divided by the length, 74 inches, the slope equals 6 percent.

Andrew Wilke, Augusta Mall general manager, said Thursday that he has nothing further to add to his original statement, which read: “Augusta Mall strives to be fully compliant with the American’s with Disabilities Act. In fact, we provide more accessible spaces throughout the property than is required by the ADA. We will further investigate this specific area to confirm that we are compliant and if not, we will commit to make any improvements that are needed.”

• No access aisles on any handicapped parking spaces at Toys R Us on Wrightsboro Road, although ADA standards require passenger loading zones provide a 5-foot-wide access aisle.

A spokeswoman said Thursday she will “follow up with the greater team” on the issue, apologizing for the delay in response.

• Van-accessible parking spaces at Chili’s on Robert C. Daniel Parkway were not properly marked, despite ADA law requiring such spaces have a sign that reads “Van-Accessible” be mounted below regular handicapped parking symbols.

Greg Cyrier, co-owner of the Augusta Chili’s, said the situation will be addressed.

“No one has brought this issue to our attention,” he said. “We will rectify that problem right away.”

Dena W. Iverson, spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Justice, the agency that investigates and enforces ADA laws, also has failed to reply to Chronicle inquiries on the issues.

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