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DOT to overhaul Hwy. 1 sidewalks

State program helps smaller towns with ADA compliance

SOLON– Long stretches of sidewalk along Highway 1 in Solon will be replaced next year as part of a state program to address accessibility issues.
About three-quarters of a mile of sidewalk will be reconstructed as part of the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) project, which will be let in December for the 2017 construction season.
The new sidewalks will come at no cost to property owners, thanks to the state’s plan to deal with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990.
According to DOT ADA Design Coordinator Mike Ross, the Solon undertaking is currently in the design process and many of the necessary easements have been obtained from property owners.
Ten intersections and approximately 13 blocks will be upgraded to meet the requirements of the ADA at an estimated cost of $222,000.
It’s all part of a statewide program to improve sidewalk accessibility in smaller communities, Ross said.
“We’re looking at all accessibility throughout the state in all the smaller towns (where) we have state highways going through,” Ross said.
The ADA requires public entities to plan and construct sidewalks that are adapted to those with handicaps.
According to the DOT’s sidewalk program website, “any government group that has responsibility for sidewalks must plan for and update pedestrian access or risk the loss of federal funding.”
For the last four years, Ross said, the DOT has been utilizing state funds to address compliance along state highways running through communities with a population of less than 5,000 residents.
And now it’s Solon’s turn.
In most cases, Ross said, non-compliance comes in the form of intersections with curbs, or sidewalks with too much slope from side to side.
“We’re only allowed a two percent cross-slope with the sidewalk that’s there,” he said.
Gaps or cracks of more than a half-inch are either ground down or reconstructed.
“A half-inch is not very much and it’s easier usually to just replace it and tie in with new sidewalk and new concrete,” Ross said.
In addition, the walkways must be four feet wide with an extra foot of passing space every 200 feet, Ross said.
Rather than try to determine the best spots for the placement of passing lanes, the DOT made the decision to upgrade all the walkways to five feet in width.
In the majority of instances, the DOT program focuses mostly on the reconstruction of existing sidewalks.
“The only time we look at adding any (new) sidewalk is if we had one property that did not have sidewalk and that just completes the continuity,” Ross said. “Anything over and beyond that is adding new facilities and we’re not looking at doing that right now unless the city wants to participate in that.”
The city is not interested in piggybacking with the project, according to Public Works Director Scott Kleppe. Kleppe said, in an email, the city looked at the potential for cooperation, but it turned out not to be feasible.
There does, however, appear to be one small stretch where a new walkway is planned in Solon.
The only chunk of new concrete appears to be a sidewalk in front of the Solon Post Office, linking existing paths between Casey’s General Store and the Jordan Creek Plaza.
Usually the projects start some time in April, Ross said, and depending on the contractor, are completed within the summer.