Nixa’s sidewalks need some work so that all of the city’s residents and visitors can use them, a study shows.
There will also be some building projects that followed an Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 compliance study performed by Bartlett and West, an engineering firm with offices in Springfield.
While project manager Todd Kempker’s report contains some high dollar figures and some high percentages, he said that Nixa is ahead of many other cities when it comes to examining compliance with the ADA.
“One of the things it set forth was that all government entities had to have an ADA transition plan,” Kempker said. “Not very many entities have done it.”
Kempker said the U.S. Department of Justice is cracking down on ADA compliance by state and local government groups.
“We’ve seen several entities, MoDOT included, start to get hammered by them, of, ‘Hey, you’d better do this,’ or have some consent decrees,” Kempker said.
Bartlett and West evaluated city-owned public buildings and sidewalks in Nixa. It examined the Nixa Community Center and the Nixa Police Station, along with City Hall. It also set up a procedure by which a citizen may file an ADA grievance.
The reviews were conducted by examining plans for the buildings and by performing physical walk-throughs.
“Basically, they marked up a plan set for each building,” Kempker said.
Data collectors also evaluated Nixa’s sidewalks by walking along and using an electronic tablet to note locations of problem spots. That data was them imported into Nixa’s municipal GIS mapping system, creating a map of the city’s sidewalks and places where there are ADA compliance issues.
Kempker said data collectors evaluated 43 miles of city-owned sidewalks, and that 71 percent of that sidewalk is not compliant, meaning it has issues with cracking, drop-offs, “noncompliant surfaces,” or other issues.
“That might be a number that makes you nervous,” Kempker told the city council. “I will say ADA compliance is a very strict thing. It’s not uncommon that we’re finding the majority of the sidewalks noncompliant.”
The most common violation for a sidewalk in Nixa, Kempker said, is the amount of slope from one side to another. The maximum allowed slope is 2 percent.
“Across the sidewalk, a four-foot sidewalk, you’ll have an inch drop from one side to the other. Everybody tries to get some drop, because you want it to drain, so obviously, if you can only have an inch, you’re talking a pretty small tolerance,” Kempker said.
The data collectors found 24 cases where curb ramps were missing at intersections, and 120 ramps lack what engineers call “truncated dome” structures. The devices are often yellow in color and are attached to sidewalk ramps at intersections to warn visually-impaired pedestrians that they are entering a crosswalk. Truncated dome requirements were adopted in 1990, at the same time that Congress adopted the ADA.
Bartlett and West estimated that Nixa would need to spend $2.5 million to fix cross slope issues on all of its sidewalks. The report calls for $574,000 to widen sidewalks along major routes and areas where sidewalks are right against curbs, $17,907 for sidewalk ramps, $141,200 to bring McCauley Park completely into ADA compliance and $55,000 at Rotary Park, plus additional compliance projects.
All told, the engineers estimate Nixa could spend $4.8 million to completely bring its public facilities into compliance with federal law.
Bartlett and West divided up the projects into two phases, and spread those phases ($2.5 million and $2.7 million) over 15 years apiece. To start the first phase, the Nixa City Council would need to commit $162,325 into its next yearly budget.
Grievances are given top priority in resolving ADA compliance problems, by law.