by eila in Accessibility, Civil and Human Rights, Development and Zoning, Environment and Open Space, Government Reform, Pedestrians, Public Health & Safety, Public Records / FOIA Requests, Schools and Youth, Seniors
Posted on November 2, 2011 at 4:31 pm
Last Modified on November 11, 2011 at 2:52 pm
Safe-START Priority Locations, Safe Routes to Schools and other Shape Up Somerville initiatives have been designed without evaluation of Safety and Access needs.
Mayor Curtatone likes to say,
“In order for Somerville to be truly livable, it should be walk-able and bike-able – not only for our children, but for all of us.”
In 2006, the City’s draft “Safe-START Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Priority Locations” names 27 priority locations, plus other improvements, estimated to cost between $4.4 and $4.7. million, and conceived on the premise that these improvements will promote healthy living; encourage urban development patterns that support walking, transit and bicycling as the primary means of transportation; and to accommodate ” youth who cannot drive and seniors who no longer drive.”
The daily impact of Somerville’s deficient pedestrian environment on constituents- especially, constituents with disAbilities, has been conspicuously ignored at the planning stage.
The result of planning and constructing transportation and infrastructure improvements without evaluating and integrating maximum feasible accessibility opportunities during the design phase is that…
now, we must contend with hundreds of newly constructed pedestrian access route deficiencies- and millions of dollars wasted in Chapter 90, local and HUD-funded streetscape construction.
Engaged local disAbility rights experts made constant efforts to turn it around.
In 2007, the Somerville Commission for Persons with Disabilities distributed 1,500 surveys amongst low-income housing developments and agency offices as well as several municipal facilities and received 103 responses back. We sent the Final Report of this inaugural disAbility Access needs survey to the Mayor, Department directors, elected officials, nonprofit agency partners, and other colleagues.
Deficiencies in streetscape Access and Safety and inaccessible municipal facilities were top priority concerns for respondents (62% were person with disAbilities).
This writer also sent in Community Development Recommendations for programming some HUD funds to increase equity and opportunity in Somerville. One suggestion (pages 7,8) is that the City invest in a Pedestrian Access & Safety Mapping Project.
Despite a steady stream of sweat equity donations- information, resources, recommendations, public comments and statements of concern- the Mayor and his designated deciders haven’t acknowledged a single offering, nor demonstrated any accountability or competence to begin responding to these gaps in municipal service programming; and, the resultant civil rights violations. (Although there are many wonderful and competent City staff, they are not, in general, the designated deciders.)
In the Summer of 2009, Community Access Project of Somerville surveyed 80 streets that were listed as Somerville Street Reconstruction Projects, 2004-2008.
We were stunned to discover that over 80% of this new construction was completed without even minimal adherence to Federal and State safety and access regulations and codes.
In Summer of 2009 alone, we documented over 700 recently reconstructed intersection and sidewalk locations that contain multiple violations of Federal and State regulations.
The CAPS survey found that
- School and other Pedestrian Crossings are routinely re-striped, signed and signaled without providing curb cuts on either side.
above: Cummings School, Prescott Street. ”accessible” entrance and crosswalk. School Crossing lacks curb cuts on both sides. These sidewalks were also repoured without providing any curb cuts, even at the designated ”accessible parking” locations. This also serves as a Ward 3 Voting location.
above: Walnut Street Pedestrian Crossing, On the left is a municipal Playground. On the right, within 100 feet, is Somerville’s Recreation Department Building.
- Streets, sidewalks and curb cuts are reconstructed without mitigating pedestrian safety and access needs. Even where some meaningful improvements are made, apex and other poorly located curb cuts are still being installed, even though proper perpendicular locations are feasible.
- Curb cuts and sidewalks are routinely reconstructed and resurfaced without any attention to sloping, transition, landing area, and location standards to make them usable, per 21st century standards, for a wide variety of diverse users.
above: A newly constructed intersection in front of the Capuano LEEDS-certified Elementary School, Municipal Park and Community Gardens contains multiple code violations, forcing children and adults with various lifelong disabilities to run half a marathon just to cross the street.
above: 9.8% cross slope on newly reconstructed sidewalks in front of the Allen Street Head Start facility. (Drive-in for busses and parking located further down the street.)
Somerville’s transportation improvements need to ensure the long term viability of our infrastructure.
Sidewalk and curb cut construction generally lasts for 30 to 50 years.
The Community Access Project chose approximately 100 locations that are hazardous to use, are within 200 feet of municipal programs or other facilities; and, are within one or more of the 15 bus routes that crisscross the Ville, and submitted those locations to the State Access Board for review.
Report from Access Board Hearing October 17, 2011
On October 17, 2011, the City of Somerville ADA Coordinator, Solicitor, Engineer, and outside consultant shared a table with three expert disAbility rights advocates and partners, and the State Architectural Access Board, for the first Public hearing on these complaints.
A clear message was delivered to the City of Somerville representatives:
“If you’re going to build it, do it right.”
These newly built barriers not only obstruct safety and walkability; they deleteriously impact the daily lives of people with a wide variety of disAbilities. That’s one-in-five. Add in our families, our friends, and our family’s friend’s friends to the mix, and you’re almost at 99% !
The list below shows the first 50 locations that the City has agreed to re-do (reference: Somerville Variance Application , AAB Docket #11-201) and represents a waste of approximately $500,000.
This story has just begun.
- Melvin & Broadway
- Central & Albion
- Central & Berkeley
- Central & Cleveland
- 26 Central – CHA
- Central & Monmouth
- Appleton & Newberne
- Francesca & Liberty
- Francesca & College
- Pritchard & Kidder
- Pritchard & Kidder (W)
- Pritchard & Kidder (S)
- Warwick & Cedar
- 13, 15 & 18 Morton
- Cross St. & Broadway
- East Somerville Library sidewalk- 115 Broadway
- Bartlett & Robinson
- Bartlett & Vernon
- Fennel & Chas. E. Ryan
- Vernon & Lowell
- Sidewalk, 100 Lowell St.
- Sidewalk, 30 Cross St.
- Cross St, 38 & 39
- Cross & Otis
- Cross & Alston
- Cross & Fountain
- Cross & Auburn
- Cross & Flint
- Cross & Flint
- Cross & Pearl
- Cross & Fountain
- Glen & Brook
- Glen & Brook (N)
- Merriam & Washington
- Washington & Washington Terrace (curb cuts)
- Montrose St (#2 sidewalk)
- Madison & Sycamore
- Richdale & Sycamore
- 29-33 Allen St. (sidewalk)
- 30 Allen St.
- Mansfield & Washington
- Mansfield St. (sidewalks, nr. 36, 41)
- Rossmore & Somerville Ave.
- Newton & Webster
- Newton & Joseph
- Bonner & Homer
- Benton & Westwood
- Summer and Craigie
- Summer & Spring
- Concord Square