Costs and questions about design prompt the city to wait until next year before installing access ramps at alley crossings in Old West Lawrence.
The city of Lawrence is spending nearly $60,000 this year to replace 99 sidewalk access ramps in Old West Lawrence, but it will be another year before people with disabilities will enjoy full access to the walkways.
Though access ramps are being replaced at street intersections -- some at substantially higher cost so they will blend with the neighborhood's brick streets and sidewalks -- the city is waiting until next year to fix sidewalk access ramps at the alleys.
"We had hoped to get the whole area done, but there simply was not enough money to get all that done this year," said Tammy Bannister, who oversees public works projects for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Funding was part of the problem, but neighborhood and city officials also said there has been disagreement over how the access ramps at alley crossings should be built.
Angie Blair, co-president of the Old West Lawrence Neighborhood Assn., said it has been hard coming up with a design for those ramps because sidewalk crossings are different at each alley.
According to Blair, the city originally proposed putting in simple asphalt "wedges" at crossings where there was less than a two-inch drop between the alley and sidewalk. She said the neighborhood association objected to that idea because they would be unsightly and would likely deteriorate in a short time.
"There's a lot of controversy over the alleyways, and we requested (the city) not do anything yet," Blair said.
The decision to spend extra money to install brick access ramps to match the brick streets and sidewalks in Old West Lawrence has stirred some controversy, but City Manager Mike Wildgen said the additional cost had nothing to do with the decision to delay fixing the alley crossings in the area.
"We've always had the policy of replacing brick with brick," Wildgen said. "We knew we were using most of the money on intersections, so we said we'd do the alleys as another phase."
The project in Old West Lawrence involves replacing 99 sidewalk ramps, including 57 concrete ramps at a cost of $493.54 each, and 42 brick inlay ramps for $749.17 each.
Wildgen said funds for the access ramp program comes from the city's share of state gasoline taxes, which also funds other street maintenance programs.
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