Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Salem Commission on Disabilities, June 2008: Road Problems

Mark Dempsey, of the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board (MAAB) and Jack Harris of the Commission look at the transition between the bike path at the bypass road to Lemon St., seen in the background.

A few weeks ago, MassHighway asked us to look at the bike path they’re building next to the bypass road.  The bike path has “transitions”, places at the end of each adjoining street that meet the path.  This is one of them at Lemon St.

MassHighway wanted a variance to state accessibility requirements.  The state can grant a variance if it is too expensive or impractical to give full access.  In this case, the slope of the street would be too steep for wheelchair users to navigate.

Fixing this would probably require blowing up Lemon St., and the other streets affected, in other words, it can’t happen.  The ends of the bike path are still accessible:  Howard St. at the south, and Skerry St. (Carlton School) at the north of the path are flat and there are no problems that we can see with the pathway itself.

The MAAB is meeting June 22nd to discuss this matter;  I only wish MassHighway had let us know this problem earlier.

We also ran into a pole problem on Lemon St., a problem bothering Mike Sosnowski and others:  Verizon and National Grid are putting new poles down, in spots that make sidewalks inaccessible to wheelchair users and virtually everyone else.   The offending pole is in the right of the background, at the corner of Lemon and Smith.  There are poles like this all over Salem.

This was a big problem in Beverly a few years back when Route 1A was rebuilt;  it resulted in a royal catfight between the Beverly Commission on Disabilities and MassHighway.  MassHighway would not return calls from Art Daignault, Beverly’s chairman.

Beth Rennard, our solicitor, has a set of guidelines for pole placement that we want to get our hands on so we can see what poles are out of compliance and what necks we need to wring.

We also got a request to look at the curb cuts and wheelchair access at North St. downtown.  This end of the road is being torn up for the courthouse project.  We’ll go down and look at it, and blog it.

No comments: