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Judge signs off on agreement for Boston to install or repair thousands of access ramps at city intersections; rejects last-minute objections by Florida man

A federal judge yesterday formally approved a deal between advocates for people with mobility problems and Boston, under which the city will install or repair roughly 15,000 access ramps at intersections over the next ten years.

US District Court Judge Richard Stearns had given preliminary approval to the deal in July; at a hearing yesterday, Stearns approved both a construction order requiring the city to install or repair roughly 1,600 ramps a year and payments of $5,000 each to the four people who use wheelchairs who brought the suit. Still to be determined: How much the city will pay the attorneys for the four and the disability-rights groups who had brought the suit.

Stearns rejected a last-minute appeal by William Norkunas, a Florida man who says he makes frequent visits to Boston and who charged that the proposed settlement would violate the rights of all 58 million Americans with disabilities.

In a response, the lawyers for the plaintiffs said their suit was on behalf of people who live or work in or who visit Boston regularly and who require ramps to cross intersections, not everybody in the entire country with any sort of disability and that there was nothing stopping Norkunas from bringing his own suit. They also countered his argument that their prospective fees would take away from any settlement funds meant for members of the class by saying that aside from the one-time payments to the four specific people, nobody would be getting any money and that the city had agreed to the proposed work and schedule regardless of how Stearns ultimately rules on how much they should be reimbursed for their services.

Stearns will now oversee the city's ten years of ramp installation and repair, barring an appeal by Norkunas.

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Comments

Right. But where will these improvements have priority and be constructed first? Is there a transpatent work order so we can see what and where will be improved with a timeline?

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seems like an earnest enough fellow and has been involved with the ADA movement from the very start but how he determined that the actions of the city of Boston affects the entire country's disabled community eludes me.

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seems like an earnest enough fellow

Oh well in that case, it's okay to slow down already much delayed infrastructure improvements.

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They should release data every six months or yearly regarding what improvements have been completed and what was fixed.

It would also be interesting to track how the improvements have held up.

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Why can't/won't the city do this without being forced to by a settlement?

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Something about being a "car guy" and something about "if you're a pedestrian, cars are going to hit you".

It's almost like...the city leadership doesn't care about pedestrians unless they're literally forced to?

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Why can't/won't the city do this without being forced to by a settlement?

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They have been.
They've been working on this for at least 20 years, in neighborhoods across the city, upgrading sidewalks/corners (not just ones in "poor condition") with the goal of eventually having every corner in the city be fully accessible.

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They have been doing it already.
They put in the new yellow ramps with the traction bumps (or whatever they are called).

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A lot of corners in my part of town have those as well as well as down in the square.

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Also sometimes called detectable paving or detectable surfaces. There are probably other names, but those are the ones I know of.

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Those bumpy surfaces are the one of the most misguided requirements to come out of the ADA. They're expensive, not durable, and benefit such a small population that many of them will never get "used".

The ADA really needs to be revisited to account for cost/benefit. When DOJ comes up with new rules they don't seem to do any analysis at all.

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On the Dorchester/Mattapan line they had been working on this since the spring.

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How about when they are blocked by city owned or contracted plows during snowstorms? That is still ok?

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The city will spend millions moving snow for drivers. Plows and sand trucks run day and night even if it barely snows. The city even lets drivers steal public property via space savers.
But the city owned sidewalks next to parks or schools? You are lucky if the city half ass shovels them a week after a big storm.

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What about the rest of the sidewalks that are in atrocious shape?

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Chaos for pedestrians along borders of responsibility between the state, DCR, various local governments. Maybe they fixed it but the throat used to be pretty bad for this. Also trying to walk from lower Allston to Watertown used to be like playing frogger.

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