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80% of NYC's curb cuts don't meet federal ADA requirements
From DNAinfo

DOT Fails to Meet Federal Standards for Disabled After $243M Spent: Report
By Gwynne Hogan | August 15, 2017 2:40pm@gwynnefitz
NEW YORK CITY ó About 80 percent of the city's curb cuts are not up to
federal standards for the disabled even after $243 million in taxpayer
funds were shelled out over the last 15 years to build new ramps,
according to a recent study by a federal court monitor. It could take the
city another 20 years to bring all the curbs up to the Americans With
Disabilities Act regulations and officials only have a vague plan for how
they'll get there, city lawyers admitted to an independent disability
specialist appointed by federal Judge George Daniels as part of oversight
of a 2002 settlement with Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association. Most of
116,530 ramps across the city were either built to ADA standards but not
maintained, or were never compliant with the law to begin with, according
to a 292-page report submitted to federal court on Aug. 1. written by
Special Master Robert L. Burgdorf. Around 4,431 curbs across the city
still don't have ramps at all. Burgdorf largely blames the toothless 2002
settlement with the Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association which didn't
set up timelines, or monitoring of improved curb cuts and didn't actually
require ADA compliance."It is quite plausible that the 2002 stipulation
may actually have slowed down progress in achieving accessibility of the
curb ramps of New York City," Burgdorf wrote, pointing out that in the
years since the settlement, the city went from building around 6,667 ramps
per year in 2002 down to just around 198 per year in 2016. "It is apparent
that the deficiencies of the 2002 Stipulation are largely to blame of the
dearth of ADA-compliant curb ramps," he wrote.He recommended Daniels
demand the city survey all curbs within 90 days, make a detailed plan for
how it will install ADA-compliant ramps at all of the 4,800 curbs without
ramps in five years and bring all of the estimated 116,530, non-compliant
ramps up to snuff in eight years.He also calls for an independent monitor
to make sure the city is keeping up with deadlines. Daniels will
review Burgdorf's findings.The Aug. 1 report echoes what disabled New
Yorkers have known for a long time, said Margie Trapani, an education
coordinator at Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York, whose
organization also sued the city in order to come up with a better
settlement."I had a colleague who fell out of her wheelchair because the
curb cut was so bad, Iíve had colleagues who were blind who ended up in
the middle of an intersection," she said. "It's really gratifying to have
a special master reinforce what we have been saying all along.""Our hope
is that finally the city will get on board with making a plan and sticking
to a plan." In his report, Burgdorf detailed the bureaucratic runaround he
got from the city's attorneys and transportation officials as he tried to
dig for statistics about how many corners the across the city had
ADA-complaint ramps, ramps that weren't up to snuff or had none at
all. After months of correspondence, the attorneys eventually admitted
that the only information the city had was from a 2014 survey of 29,265
curbs, about 18 percent of all the curbs, and taking stock of the rest of
the curbs would take another ten years. Scott Gastel, a spokesman for
the Department of Transportation pointed to a dramatic increase in funds
towards fixing curbs, saying they've budgeted $800 million over the next
10 years, but wouldn't say when all curbs would be ADA compliant. The
funds will also go to hiring more than 100 people dedicated to inspection
and construction of 140,000 more pedestrian ramps, up from $20 million a
year spent on curbs following the 2002 settlement, he said. Gastel also
disputed the $243 million figure cited by the federal monitor. He said the
city has spent $350 million since the settlement to install nearly 24,000
new pedestrian ramps that he said were ADA compliant." As the nationís
largest municipal transportation agency, NYC DOT takes its
responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) very
seriously," Gastel said. "Enhancing accessibility is part of the agency
mission and each day we work to improve our cityís streets for the
disability community."But Michelle Caiola, Director of Litigation at
Disability Rights Advocates, the attorney representing CID-NY, said it's
proven difficult for the DOT to explain how they've spent those
funds."They like to talk about the money theyíve spent but itís not
obvious how itís been spent or how effectively its been used. Itís really
hard to track the money,Ē she said, hoping a judge will side with them and
the Special Master and amend the terms of the settlement. "We need
timelines and monitoring, not just lip service and promises."Eastern
Paralyzed Veterans didn't return a request for comment immediately.
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