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Boston commits to installing, repairing thousands of handicap ramps at intersections over the next ten years

A federal judge today gave preliminary approval to a deal between mobility activists and Boston, which agreed that over the next ten years it will install and repair a total of 15,000 handicap ramps that people in wheelchairs or with other mobility issues can actually use.

That would be enough to ensure citywide "curb ramp saturation" - that every corner at city intersections has a usable ramp, according to the proposed settlement.

Activists and the city have been negotiating the issue since 2018. On June 30, three Jamaica Plain residents and a Braintree resident, all who use wheelchairs to get around, sued Boston in federal court, not because the negotiations weren't going well, but to get a court-ordered consent decree that would formalize the city's obligations - and subject the city's efforts to annual scrutiny by a judge.

In their suit, the four recounted the difficulties they now have getting around Boston - even right at the State House - because of missing, poorly built or damaged ramps.

In a filing today, the activists asked US District Court Judge Richard Stearns to approve the settlement between the two sides. The city did not oppose the motion and Stearns gave his OK for preliminary approval, with a hearing set on Oct. 19 to grant final approval.

The program will start by surveying every intersection in the city and compiling a list of corners that either don't have ramps or that have ramps that are too narrow, too steeply pitched, end in what becomes a pool of water after rain or is otherwise not fully usable. The deficient corners will then be prioritized based on their location - with deficient corners getting ranked higher if they're near government offices, schools and parks, for example.

The city will have two years to develop a scheduled for ramp installation or replacement - and will have to create a system for people to request ramps at specific spots.

Boston also agreed to keep its existing ramps in good working order - and to figure out an alternative way for people with mobility issues to navigate a spot if repairs might take awhile.

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PDF icon Proposed settlement287.61 KB

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Those new yellow ones?. I've seen them on every corner

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in East Boston

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That's fixing/building 4+ handicap ramps every day for the next 10 years including weekends and holidays. Obviously it's a real need, but unless the fixes are a very minor, that seems unrealistic.

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More than one person can do the job -- even in different places in the city at the same time.

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Unfortunately even when they do choose to "make them compliant", they have no idea what that even means. So many new non-compliant ramps being built around the city these days.

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But page 7 of this Colorado DOT document seems to contradict the 311 claims.


And hey, ADA is federal, so it's not a Colorado vs. Massachusetts issue, it's a matter of interpreting the ADA.

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not to pile snow on them in the winter. Snow removal not snow piling on handicap ramps.

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I'm all for having ramps. We absolutely need them.

But many of the ramps in the South End have now been built and re-built 3+ times in about 15 years.

..1. Once to build them.
..2. Once to re-build them with less pitch because the first ones were too steep.
..3. Once to add the bumpy/colored visibility pad. (this might have been part of 1 or 2, I'm not certain).
..4. Many of the bumpy/colored visibility pads were poorly installed (or a crappy design?), so they broke within a couple of years and had to be replaced.
..5. A lot of the ramps were recently re-built again because they pointed into the middle of the intersection, and did not align with cross-walks.

So we've taken a hunk of infrastructure made of brick/cement/granite that should essentially last forever, and now rebuilt it over and over and over again. Good intent, but gosh, I hope the ones being built now can be done right, and just once per generation?

Also, I swear the Handicapped-Industrial-Complex is making a fortune on the bumpy/colored pads.

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... my neighborhood taking a lot of "You hate the handicapped" grief, including from some of the regulars on this forum, when we first asked the city to install durable iron tactile ramps as had been done in historic districts in Baltimore, Philadelphia, etc. instead of the plastic ones City Hall was pushing, and then even offered to raise money among the neighbors to pay for the upgrade ourselves. Now the plastic crap is already falling apart and the taxpayers are on the hook to do it again and again. There's never budget to do it right the first time, but there's always budget to fix it.

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Great, except that most of them will have poor drainage and the city won't clear them after snowstorms.

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Now let's see if they actually follow through, especially on the requests.

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Now the city has a federal judge watching it. That's how we got Deer Island, or perhaps more relevant here, elevators at Green Line stops and kneeling buses.

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What about the rest of our horrible sidewalks?

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