Disability Activists Sue Caltrans for Negelcting Crosswalks and Sidewalks

1_21_09_sidewalk.JPGWhile cracked sidewalks can be found throughout the city, this one was found in Westwood.  Photo: Donald Shoup

A coalition of activists for seniors and the disabled went to federal court to try and force Caltrans to meet federal safety standards for sidewalk, intersection and other pedestrian amenities.  The group charges that when doing road construction, our state DOT is ignoring the federally mandated fixes and upgrades that are required by the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). 

An attorney for the plaintiffs tells the Times that data from Caltrans from 2001 to 2006 shows that the agency failed to install about 1,000 required curb ramps during road improvements. The 1,000 missing improvements doesn't include curb ramps that were installed but don't comply with federal law.

Caltrans and urban officials from around the state seem aware of the problem.  The Times explains:

Government officials and powerful municipal organizations such as the League of California Cities have contended that access lawsuits will burden financially strapped state and local agencies that are already struggling to comply with the law. Caltrans estimates that it would cost about $2.5 billion to make improvements statewide...

...Caltrans has spent $10 million -- an amount that will be spent annually for the next several years -- to build and upgrade curb ramps as well as improve sidewalks.

I'm certainly not a math expert, but at this pace it will take Caltrans a mere 250 years to bring California into compliance with the ADA, assuming no conditions get worse over the next two and a half centuries.

While that $2.5 billion seems to be a huge amount of money, certainly thrown out by the League of California Cities to scare people away from supporting the safe streets and sidewalks that all Californians deserve, consider that LA County itself will be spending $8 billion of Measure R funds to increase highway capacity and encourage car-driving commutes over the life of the gas tax.

Locally, the City of Los Angeles has its own ADA problems.  Back in January Donald Shoup broke down the many issues that the City faces as it tries to come into compliance and the many ways its dropping the ball.