State Grant Secures Safe Sidewalks

After the harsh winter weather, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that over $100 million in state funding would be allocated to repaving and enhancing roadways across New York State. These initiatives began over the summer and are expected to be completed by the end of 2018.

The new funding, awarded through the Harsh Winter Paving Initiative, in addition to the already existing $300 million previously committed for projects that repave approximately 1,600 lane miles of road across the state, will support an additional 84 projects and the renewal of nearly 1,000 lane miles of pavement.

“These investments are critical to our transportation system and essential for community growth and regional economic competitiveness,” according to a statement by Cuomo. “By infusing more than $100 million in state funds to revitalize our roads, we are enhancing the quality of life for all New Yorkers, while ensuring every traveler remains safe throughout the Empire State.”

According to Cuomo’s website, $275,000 was allocated to resurface Route 299 between Route 32 (North Front Street) and the NYS Thruway Overpass (Interstate 87) in Ulster County.

Before the repaving could begin, 15 sidewalk ramps had to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 standards. The ADA sets minimum construction guidelines to provide accessability for people with disabilities.

The ADA sets standards in width, surface texture, slope, curb ramps and obstructions; the ADA also requires that public entities retrofit any public facilities to these standards to ensure equal access and must be upgraded when any alterations, such as road resurfacing commence.

Width requirements for sidewalks exist to benefit wheel-chair bound individuals. The minumum width for an ADA-compliant sidewalk is 36 inches (3 feet). Additionally, if sidewalks are less than 60 inches (5 feet) across, passing spaces must be constructed at least every 200 feet and measure at least 60 inches on all sides.

Surface texture requirements exist to ensure that any disabled individual with a mobility device is able to travel safely. The surface texture must be firm, stable and slip-resistant and any grates in the sidewalk can’t exceed more than half an inch in width.

A sidewalk must have a slope of less than 1:20, otherwise it will be considered a ramp. An increase in elevation of more than half an inch will require the construction of a ramp, elevator or other compliant facility; there must be an alternative to stairs and escalators in order to comply with ADA standards.

Curb ramps are required whenever a sidewalk crosses a curb and are particularly important at street intersections. These ramps must have a slope of less than 1:12, be at least 36 inches wide, contain a detectable warning device with a raised dome surface and contrasting color and can not cross into the street. 

Where obstructions such as telephone poles, traffic signal cabinets or other utilities and infrastructure exist, there must be a minimum of 36 inches between the edge of an obstruction and the edge of the sidewalk. If the sidewalk can not be reconstructed to meet this standard, the obstruction must be removed or relocated.

According to New Paltz Mayor Tim Rogers, these upgrades required significant additional state funding comparable to the cost of resurfacing Main Street. Now that the ramps are completed, Rogers expects the repaving to be completed efficiently.

“Repaving work is generally done overnight and happens quickly,” Rogers said in a Facebook post. “When repaving in downtown New Paltz took place during the summer of 2016, it was done in two nights and streets were fully operational during the day.”