Manteca is spending $125,000 to inventory street trees in a bid to comply with the American with Disabilities Act.
It comes on the heels of a nearly three year endeavor to inspect all the sidewalks in the city and assessing them for ADA compliance as well as safety issues.
The information being gleaned will allow the city to develop a plan and prioritize work that needs to be done. Federal law requires the plan to give a priority to walkways serving government buildings and facilities, bus stops and other transportation services, places of public accommodation, and business districts, followed by walkways serving residential areas.
Once the plan is developed, the city then will need to identify funding to start work on improving sidewalks.
Manteca’s sidewalk maintenance efforts took a major blow in 2008 when more than half of the streets division’s 16 positions were eliminated during budget cuts. That included four workers who were dedicated to addressing sidewalk, curb and gutter issues.
Manteca has essentially lost 10 years of work when it comes to tackling sidewalk safety.
The lack of a dedicated concrete crew in the streets divisions has forced Manteca in recent years to use the remaining street workers when they have the time to address the most egregious sidewalk issues in high traffic areas such as they did earlier this year with trees in sidewalk wells along North Main Street and Alameda Street on the northeast corner of that intersection. The trees had severely buckled the sidewalks at that location requiring some trees to be removed and sidewalk replaced.
The city currently due to manpower and funding issues is reduced primarily to grinding down the edges of uplifted segments of sidewalks or using asphalt to create a mini-ramp. Such work is driven in a large point by residents who point out sidewalk safety concerns using the government outreach app or accessing it via the City of Manteca’s website.
A consultant literally walked all of Manteca’s streets and provided detailed data about issues. The city is digesting that data that will be coupled with the tree survey to put together an action plan.
Data gathered on sidewalks to find deficiencies related to the latest ADA rules included:
uthe width of sidewalks.
uthe grade of slopes where driveways cross sidewalks.
uthe grade of slopes for the transition from sidewalk to street at intersection and where there are appropriate improvements in place for the blind where it is required.
usidewalks with cracks or where concrete has been uplifted by trees that need addressing.
umissing sidewalks as well as where there is no curb and gutter but development has occurred.
The need for ADA compliance was sharpened after a flurry of nearly three dozen lawsuits was filed against Manteca merchants in recent years.
Manteca Parks & Recreation Director Kevin Fant said getting a clear understanding of tree issues is crucial for developing a plan of attack. Tree roots affect sidewalks, roadways and curb ramps, making sidewalk travel in urban areas dangerous, difficult and in some cases impossible for people who use wheelchairs, scooters, and other mobility aids. Properly installed and maintained curb ramps allow people with mobility impairments to gain access to the sidewalks and to pass through center islands in streets.
When streets and roads are newly built or altered, they must have ramps wherever there are curbs or other barriers to enter from a pedestrian walkway. Likewise, when new sidewalks or walkways are built or altered, they must contain curb ramps or sloped areas wherever they intersect with streets or roads. Resurfacing a street or sidewalk is considered an alteration for these purposes.
The council at least three times in the past 16 years has tried to tackle the issue of missing sidewalks. Money has been budgeted but when the city was unable to get around to the work, the funds where put toward other projects in subsequent budgets.
In one case, the long-promised sidewalks on Cottage Avenue where they are missing south of Yosemite Avenue were funded but then that money was shifted to put in place sidewalks along Commerce Court’s northern side when the Social Security office was relocated. The decision meant anyone traveling to the Social Security office on foot or in a wheelchair would not have to travel in the street.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com