Public asked to provide comment on sidewalk transition plan

Published 7:00 am Friday, June 24, 2016

Starting Monday, residents within the city of Picayune are asked to view a transitional plan to bring sidewalks up to Americans with Disabilities Act regulations.
The completed transitional plan can be viewed at the Intermodal Transportation Center in Picayune until Friday, July 1. Citizens are asked to provide written comments about the plan to Code Enforcement Officer Tom Milar, either via hard copy or by email on or before July 1. The Intermodal Transportation Center is located at 200 Highway 11 S. Milar said the transitional plan will be available for viewing from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The public comments will be presented to the City Council at their next meeting, after which time the transitional plan and all submitted comments will be brought to Jackson, Milar said.
Milar said creation of the transitional plan began after he was contacted about two years ago by the Mississippi Department of Transportation, who said the city needed to conduct a self-evaluation of the city’s sidewalks to begin the process of bringing them up to ADA standards.
As part of that assessment, Milar and Public Works Director Eric Morris attended a class in Jackson last summer that had each participant either experience what it is like to be blind and walk down a sidewalk, or use a wheelchair to traverse the pathway. Morris said he was tasked with the wheelchair, and now has a greater respect for what it’s like to try to climb a sidewalk ramp.
“If a ramp is not right you need to be Arnold Schwarzenegger to get up them,” Milar said.
Milar said he was blindfolded and tasked with using a cane to traverse two blocks of a sidewalk, which gave him a new appreciation for what blind citizens deal with when trying to use a sidewalk.
Morris said ramps are not supposed to have an incline greater than 8 percent, and sidewalks are not supposed to have a horizontal slant greater than 2 percent.
During that summer, the city hired an engineering student to help them compile detailed information on the sidewalks in the city to create the transitional plan. The plan includes locations of sidewalks along with deficiencies found. Photos are also in the plan.
According to MDOT the city is tasked with focusing on three areas of priorities, with public areas taking precedence and commercial and residential areas following respectively. Morris said that there are exceptions, such as when a sidewalk is heavily used even if it is in a residential area. Morris said one example is when it is near a school.
To bring every sidewalk in the city up to ADA regulations, Morris estimates it would cost a total of $625,416 and take 8 to 10 years with ideal annual funding. However, the city has budgeted between $10,000 to $20,000 per year to conduct the work, meaning it would take about 30 years unless additional funding is found. Morris said city officials are working to find any and all grant funding opportunities to defray the cost.
To help offset some of the cost to repair the sidewalks, city employees will conduct the demolition of problematic sidewalks before contractors come in to pour new concrete. Morris said the old concrete is used as rip rap on drainage features in the city.

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