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Most of unincorporated Skagit County's pedestrian infrastructure not up to ADA standards

Skagit Valley Herald - 5/25/2024

Most pedestrian infrastructure in unincorporated Skagit County does not meet federal accessibility standards, according to the county’s newly released Americans with Disabilities Act Self-Evaluation and Transition Plan. The plan details barriers to access within public rights-of-way. This includes sidewalks, curb ramps, bus stops, parking spots and crosswalk pushbuttons.

The county plans to use the plan to guide accessibility improvements.

The county’s self-evaluation for barriers to accessibility and its published plan are federally mandated under Americans with Disabilities Act Title II.

Title II requires that government agencies provide equal access to offered programs and services.

According to the plan, 93% of unincorporated Skagit County’s curb ramps do not meet ADA standards, with about half having significant compliance issues.

Ramps have been found to be too narrow, too steep or not present. Of the 120 ramps with significant issues, 59 were not present.

The plan also states that 84% of sidewalks in unincorporated Skagit County have minor compliance issues; all 28 pushbuttons are noncompliant, and need to be reprogrammed or replaced; and 98% of the 50 bus stops are noncompliant, with 44% having a significant issue.

Most bus stops need some form of grinding, patch repair or full reconstruction of a boarding area.

All of unincorporated Skagit County’s wheelchair ramps and staircases do not meet standards, and require new handrails, and most of the 12 ADA parking spots had minor compliance issues.

The published plan notes that much of the pedestrian infrastructure was constructed before the adoption of current ADA standards, and it likely met state and federal standards at the time.

In general, while some issues, such as missing bumps on curbs referred to as a detectable warning surface, can be fixed during maintenance, others such as a sidewalk redesign can require a large construction project.

Once the county’s transition plan is finalized, accessibility barriers can be included within Transportation Improvement Plan projects.

The county’s plan also includes prioritization of the pedestrian barriers, estimation of costs, and development of a schedule for removals.

The county prioritized barriers by their physical impact to accessibility and their proximity to important destinations, such as transit stops and schools.

The estimated cost to remove all barriers is $6.3 million.

Based on current funding, it would take 20 years to remove all barriers.

The plan also lists recommended policy actions, such as developing a standard grievance process for accessibility barriers, and updating county design standards to match federal standards.

The county will hold a public hearing on the ADA Transition Plan at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Skagit County Commissioners’ Hearing Room, 1800 Continental Place, Mount Vernon.

Those interested can join remotely at https://bit.ly/SkagitBoCCMtg or by calling 253-215-8782. The meeting ID is 871 8000 1980, and passcode is 143573.

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(c)2024 the Skagit Valley Herald (Mount Vernon, Wash.)

Visit the Skagit Valley Herald (Mount Vernon, Wash.) at www.goskagit.com

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