Brooklyn Park Makes Strides to Become More ADA Accessible
The need for greater accessibility is growing as baby boomers continue to age. Many cities are working on it, including Brooklyn Park.
However, for disabled residents like Brenda Bouse, navigating the streets and sidewalks can be difficult.
“They are awful bumpy,” says Brenda when asked about the streets and sidewalks. “The cut outs are not grounded down right. The stop and go lights, and the push and go lights need to be in a reachable friendly spot. Which, some corners are and some others aren’t. The sidewalks just need to be evened out.”
Fixing those problem areas is a priority for the city, but advocates say that cities should already have the issues fixed.
“There is no administrative body out there actually checking to see if cities have their ADA transition plans in place,” says David Fenley with the Minnesota Council on Disability.
ADA Passed in 1990
The Americans with Disabilities act was established in 1990. Cities had until 1992, to comply before it would start being enforced. However, advocates for the law say compliance isn’t something that typically happens since there isn’t an entity that enforces it. Due to the chance of losing federal funding several cities are now putting together compliance plans.
The funding that cities are at risk of losing comes from federal transportation funds that are distributed by the state. Cities like Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center put plans in place so they won’t lose out on the money, which is used for road projects, trails and bridge repairs.
“Priority areas for us would include hospitals, schools, and government buildings,” says Brooklyn Park Civil Engineer Mitchell Robinson. “Anywhere there is going to be a lot of foot traffic or public meeting spaces.”
The places that Mitchell referred to are required to be accessible to people with disabilities by federal law since they are tax payer funded. However, updating all the areas that aren’t up to ADA standards will take time and come with a hefty price tag.
“The hope is that it’s less than 30 years obviously but it’s a large city,” says Mitchell. “When we did the original data collection there was just under 2,000 ramps in the city. Fixing those ramps will cost anywhere $3,500 to $4,000 a ramp. That’s a large fiscal undertaking to do a project of that nature so to spread it out over 30 years is what we are shooting for.”
Updates are Good for Everyone
The timing frustrates people with disabilities, who just want a safe way to get from point A to point B. However, advocates say these changes will benefit everyone.
“These are things that will benefit everyone in society,” added Fenley. “I think that’s a more important message than to say we are doing this stuff because of people with disabilities or people with disabilities cost money. If these barriers didn’t exist in the first place then we wouldn’t have to correct them.”
For more information on the Minnesota Council on Disabilities click here.