CAPS response to Somerville AAB plan-14 location remediation 2012


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The City of Somerville hired an outside consultant to deal with curb cut and sidewalk accessibility complaints. The Community Access Project, an all-volunteer group of disAbility rights experts, responds to that document, pointing out gaps and problems with 2011 "remediations". We also remind the Architectural Access Board why they should enforce the code that prohibits apex curb cuts where perpendicular or parallel curb cuts are feasible to construct. Curb cuts need to be adequately oriented to the crosswalks; and, the crosswalks need to be perpendicular to the curb line. It's a public safety issue in addition to a human rights issue. We deserve safe, accessible and integrated Complete Streets.

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CAPS response to Somerville AAB plan-14 location remediation 2012

  1. 1. CAPS Response to City of Somerville 2012 14 location mitigation plan to AAB, dated May 2, 2012 page 1 of 10May 29, 2012FROM: Community Access Project, SomervilleP.O. Box 434, Somerville, MA 02143TO; Architectural Access BoardOne Ashburton Place, Room 1310Boston MA 02108RE: Response to Ciy of Somervilles AAB 14-location mitigation plan for 2012 construction season,Dear Chairperson Lang and AAB Members,Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the City of Somervilles plan to remediate 14 locationsduring the 2012 Construction season. TABLE OF CONTENTSI. Review of three dockets where substantive design questions arise..... pages 2 and 3II. Review of why it is so important to the Blind community for the AAB to enforce the 2006 521CMR 21.2.1 code for pedestrian safety, wherever feasible...... page 4III. Review of certain locations that the City claims were remediated in 2011. Out of the 10street locations claimed to be remediated, the Citys documentation leaves questions regarding atleast 6 locations. ..... pages 5 and 6IV. We note 3 dockets where the original complainants citations are omitted in Citysremediation plan. (Although this will probably not affect the achievement of compliance per AABjurisdiction, we mention these here to prevent potential confusion.)..... pages 7 and 8V. Copy of email sent by CAPS to City Solicitor Shapiro on February 9, 2012. (AlthoughTransition planning, per Federal requirements, is not under the State AABs jursidiction, we includea copy of this February 9, 2012 email in this document because the City refers to it on page 2.) .....pages 8 - 10.Thank you for your timely and careful review of these issues.Sincerely, andEileen Feldman and Thomas Gilbert, Director and Assistant DirectorCommunity Access Project, Somerville
  2. 2. CAPS Response to City of Somerville 2012 14 location mitigation plan to AAB, dated May 2, 2012 page 2 of 10 I. Review of three dockets where substantive design questions arise • AAB #C10-206 Cedar St & Warwick St Somerville, MA 02145The City proposes to only mitigate one ramp at this busy pedestrian location (one block from theSomerville Community Path Recreational facility).We do not understand why "catch basins 10 feet from the apex curb cuts" would be consideredsignificant infeasibility considerations; and, we do not find that trees or utility poles would interferewith mitigating 2 of these three apex curb cuts.. We ask the AAB to question the City why the two apex ramps noted in below image (greenarrows) are infeasible to mitigate. Our concerns include: these apex curb cuts are unsafe, andalign rolling pedestrians out of the general path of travel and potentially into moving traffic; and,these apex locations do not provide adequate directional cues for visually impaired pedestrians tosafely cross and enjoy continuous, safe and accessible walking routes.
  3. 3. CAPS Response to City of Somerville 2012 14 location mitigation plan to AAB, dated May 2, 2012 page 3 of 10 • AAB Docket #C10-180 Central St & Berkeley St Somerville, MA 02143The Citys response only provides a remediation design for the Southern curb cut; and omits a design to remediate the cross slope of the Northern curb cut, which was reported in the original complaint, to Northern curb cut at cut, Central C10-180 Northern curb measure 3.8%. (A photo was not taken of that Berkeley & Central Streets St. & Berkeley St. measurement in 2009 due to children crossing while we has a cross-slope of 3.8% 3.8% cross-slope measured in center were there.) of this curb cut We ask that the AAB order the City to remediate both curb cuts, not just the southern one. • AAB Docket #C10-178 Central St & Albion St Somerville, MA 02143The City submitted a Variance application to eliminate remediation of Apex curb cut on corner of CentralSt.(west sidewalk) & Albion St. (north sidewalk). AAB staff will do a site visit on June 7, 2012 at 1:30 p.m.While we understand why the City is reluctant to tear up the sidewalk in front of the large residentialbuilding at 108 Central Street, we request that the AAB ask why it is not feasible to add a perpendicularcurb cut on Albion Streets north sidewalk, reciprocal to the (compliant) curb cut on the south sidewalk?
  4. 4. CAPS Response to City of Somerville 2012 14 location mitigation plan to AAB, dated May 2, 2012 page 4 of 10 II. Review of why it is so important to the Blind community for the AAB to enforce the 2006 521 CMR 21.2.1 code for pedestrian safety, wherever feasible.On February 6, 2012, two CAPS members who are both nearly blind, testified at an AAB Hearingregarding the difficulties we experience when apex curb cuts are newly or re-constructed atlocations where it appears structurally feasible to construct separate curb ramps for each directioninstead. We discussed why it is necessary to have curb cuts oriented directly into the crosswalksdirectional path of travel. It is also an important public safety issue to ensure that the crosswalksare straight, and perpendicular to the crossing streets curb line wherever possible. Skewedcrosswalks pose danger to people with mobility disabilities as well as visual disabilities.We were informed that mitigating apex curb cuts are not considered necessary or important issues,because, "Blind people use the sound of the traffic for directional cues."Although it is somewhat correct that pedestrians who are blind do use hearing for directionality attimes, it is no longer a sufficiently adequate cue to cross a street safely. In fact, our hearing is oftennot even useful depending on intersection design, or if traffic lights are actuated or not.Apex curb cuts cause many safety issues to blind or low vision pedestrians.Guide dogs are trained to go to curb cuts (which should be within the crosswalk areas); but, ifthese are on a diagonal or are apex, one cannot reliably take a direction to cross the street safely.Due to the now complex design of intersections, (even at a simple side street crossing) just usingtraffic flow is not a dependable method anymore.Some of the reasons for this include:-too loud traffic,-too soft traffic,-quiet cars,-rounded curbs, etc.Curb cuts should be designed to directly lead one to the crosswalk & directly to the next corner.This is a very important pedestrian safety issue for people with visual disabilities.If you have any doubts or questions about the validity of this testimony, please contact theMassachusetts Commission for the Blinds Orientation & Mobility Department, 600 WashingtonStreet, Boston, MA 02111.11 Director Meg Robertson, MCB Orientation & Mobility Department, can be reached at 617-626-7581.
  5. 5. CAPS Response to City of Somerville 2012 14 location mitigation plan to AAB, dated May 2, 2012 page 5 of 10 III. Review of six locations that the City claims were remediated in 2011.On page 3 of the Citys 2012 remediation plan for 14 locations, the City notes that 10 locationshave also been remediated in 2011. (.pdf image scan follows)"CAPS has not received documentation proving that adequate remediation has been accomplishedfor at least six of the these 10 locations, as follows:1. C10 181 Central St. & Browning RoadThe Citys response measures the landing instead of the curb cut and only for the northern curbcut. The original complaint showed that the cross-slope of curb cut center slope exceeds 2%(Section 21.3) as follows:Northern curb cut: cross-slope measured 5.6%Southern curb cut: cross slope measured 3.9%2. C10-184. Central Street & Forster St.The City provides photos showing measurements for the curb cut landing cross slope; and thecurb cut landing run slope.However, the original complaint is only regarding the landing width, which was 20.5 inches. TheCity provides no information showing that this has been remediated.3. C10-185. Central/Oxford Street. The City provides a photo of a 2% run slope for this curbcut. However, the code violation cited is that the landing is only 31 inches instead of 48 inches(21.6.1). The City provides no information showing that this has been remediated.4. C10 182 Central & Cambria.The Citys response (dated Fall, 2011) states that they have remediated "this portion of the originalcomplaint." The enclosed photo shows only a small portion of the bottom landing for the Southerncurb cut with no measurements; and not enough information to see whether the bottom landing is
  6. 6. CAPS Response to City of Somerville 2012 14 location mitigation plan to AAB, dated May 2, 2012 page 6 of 10now a level and smooth transition at the gutter line.The City omits any mention of the Northern curb cut (which had a bottom landing/transitionmeasuring 12.1%); and provides no information about whether this N curb cut has beenremediated; or will be remediated in the future.5. C10-197 Morrison & Clifton Street. Although the AAB allowed this as remediation2, CAPSnotes that all the City did was to repaint the crosswalk so it would connect the 2 cited curb cuts.These curb cuts were constructed entirely outside of the general publics path of travel eventhough there are no apparent site limitations to have prevented two T-intersection curb ramps (MADOTs E 107.6.4 design). These two curb ramps are sometimes not available, because residentspark in front of them; and one of them still has a landing that only measures 34.5." The City didnot address the landing issue at all.6. C10-278. Central Street & Summer Street, SW. This location was the subject of a recentadjudicatory hearing. The AAB continued the matter, providing the City another opportunity tochoose another consultant to defend this "remediated" intersection design. The Citys additionalconsultation is due by July 1, 2012. (below image of C10-278 location includes some CAPSsurvey information)2 Although the State jursidiction may allow for certain details to be overlooked, CAPS reminds the City, that because itreceives millions in Federal funding every year, it is obligated to use the most stringent regulations to ensure thatpedestrian rights of ways allow safe, accessible and integrated facilities for persons with disabilities. The Federalscoping regulations are currently more stringent than the State requirements; and the DOJ 2010 Standards. which aretriggered for the 2012 construction season, includes some technical details that are not yet included or enforced viathe State regulations. In addition, the ADA and FHA consider structural infeasibility to be a very high standard toprove; and, there is no variance application at the Federal level. See:
  7. 7. CAPS Response to City of Somerville 2012 14 location mitigation plan to AAB, dated May 2, 2012 page 7 of 10 IV OMISSIONS in the Citys citations of violations:Although the three locations omitted issues noted below should not affect the achievement ofcompliance, they are noted here to avoid potential confusion.AAB Docket #C10-188 26 Central St Somerville, MA 02143 CAPS notes that the Citys document omits mention of the cross slope issues adjacent to thecurb cut that will be remediated opposite CHAs entrance. This driveway crossing is at a Churchparking lot (where the City held its Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee meetings); and, weassume that the State AAB does not consider this to be under the Citys jurisdiction or scope ofwork at this time.AAB Docket #s C10-202, 203 and 204 Kidder Ave & Prichard Ave Somerville, MA 02144We note that, while the Citys document names other legitimate pedestrian barrier issues at this 4-pointintersection, the Citys 2012 remediation plan omits mention of three issues included in the originalcomplaints. Although this is probably just an oversight, we include mention of them here:1. below, left: lack of any reciprocal curb ramp,2. below, center: the 15% curb ramp run slope and3. below, right: 10.6% bottom landing transition (photos below).
  8. 8. CAPS Response to City of Somerville 2012 14 location mitigation plan to AAB, dated May 2, 2012 page 8 of 10AAB Docket #C10-248 Washington Street & Merriam Street The Citys document names "pooling of water" as the only violation at this location. However, the original complaint does not mention pooling of water at all; and, instead, cites cross and run slope violations. (These omissions should not affect the achievement of compliance at this location since the Citys remediation design looks fine; nevertheless, we mention them here to avoid potential confusion):Section 21. 3: run-slope of eastern curb cut is 10.8% (photo at left)Section 21. 3 cross-slope of western curb cut, at foot of cut, is 3.7% (photo at right) V. Copy of email sent by CAPS to City Solicitor Shapiro and others on February 9, 2012.3From: Community Access project <>Date: February 9, 2012 3:38:02 AM ESTTo: David Shapiro <>Cc: "Thomas (DPS) Hopkins" <>, Myra Berloff <>, williamwhite <>Subject: f/u, February 6 2012 AAB hearingFebruary 9, 2012TO: David P. Shapiro, Assistant City Solicitor, City of SomervilleFROM: Eileen Feldman, Director, Community Access Project, SomervilleRE: Follow-Up, Architectural Access Board Hearing regarding #V11-201 February 6, 2012, 1 pmDear Assistant City Solicitor David Shapiro,It was a pleasure to meet you this past Monday at the Architectural Access Board Hearing on the Citys Varianceapplication, AAB Docket #V11-201, regarding 50 pedestrian facility locations that are next on the list for remediationduring the next several construction seasons, due to 521CMR violations.In the interests of advancing the best possible scenario for the City of Somerville to succeed in responding to thesematters, I would like to offer the following three (3) points to guide the Citys response.3 Although Transition Planning and municipal streetscape policies are outside of the AABs jursidictions, weare including a copy of this February 9, 2012 email to the City Solicitor in this document because the Cityquotes its language (but ignores its meaning).
  9. 9. CAPS Response to City of Somerville 2012 14 location mitigation plan to AAB, dated May 2, 2012 page 9 of 10 Copy of email sent by CAPS to City Solicitor Shapiro and others on February 9, 2012, cont.: In addition, below my signature, I am including online links to selected Public Comment and other documents that I provided to the City of Somerville, since November, 2005, in efforts to help guide and work with Mayor Curtatone and City Staff colleagues, towards mitigation of citywide streetscape and transportation facility issues.1. In prioritizing locations, the Community Access Project suggests the following order of priorities: By proximity to:a. government offices, facilities and services;b. public transportation facilities;c. places of public accommodations, including employment opportunities;d. health-related facilities and elderly/disabled housing; ande. density of residential streets; in addition to:utilizing checklists and surveys that coordinate the 521CMR standards with the 2010 ADA Standards for AccessibleDesign- and choosing the most stringent requirements, the City should prioritize the most unsafe(inaccessible) conditions first.These priorities are based on ADA regulations found at 28 CFR §35.150(d)(2) and 28 CFR §35.150(d)(3).2. If the City will also be using some CDBG funding to accomplish these corrections, please be aware that CDBGfunding needs to be used to supplement- and not supplant- the Citys overall efforts to accomplish the development ofviable communities by the provision of decent housing and a suitable living environment and expanding economicopportunities, principally for persons of low- and moderate- income.3. I heard you state, towards the end of the Hearing, that, "none of these are public safety issues." Please be awarethat each of these code violations is, by definition, a public safety issue. If the City of Somerville is unable toacknowledge the serious and continuing negative impact that systemic and citywide 521CMR violations have on thedaily lives of residents, and especially residents with disAbilities, this will indeed be a very long, grueling process ofprosecution.The hoped-for alternative is that these State Board processes will eventually result in the recognition, by all parties infront of the Board, that a meaningful series of meetings and other mutually beneficial projects between disAbility andother human rights advocates , City staff, and other interested individuals is possible and necessary-- and that we alldesire the development of mutually beneficial trust, goals and a practical action plan that will enable the City ofSomerville to grow into a city of opportunity for all.I would appreciate your acknowledgement of this email and welcome any questions or remarks that you would like toshare with me.I am forwarding a copy of this email to Thomas Hopkins, Executive Director, Architectural Access Board; Myra Berloff,Executive Director, Massachusetts Office on Disability; and Alderman at Large Bill White, Board of Alderman Vice-President and Chairperson, Public Health and Public Safety Committee.Very best wishes,Eileen Feldman, directorCommunity Access Project, Somerville [email copy continued on next page]
  10. 10. CAPS Response to City of Somerville 2012 14 location mitigation plan to AAB, dated May 2, 2012 page 10 of 10 Copy of email sent by CAPS to City Solicitor Shapiro and others on February 9, 2012, cont.: The 5 documents listed below are just a small selection out of thousands of volunteer hours spent since 2005, in efforts to develop good faith processes, using the skills and knowledge of disAbility rights advocates working as andalongside City staff and Mayor Curtatone, with the goal of systematically mitigating citywide pedestrian public safety issues:A. On how residents with disabilities perceive streetscape conditions to be the number one barrier to their comfortand inclusion:Disability Access report. Submitted November, 2007 to Mayor Curtatone, ADA Coordinator Campbell, and allDepartment Heads. See pages 17, 35, 36, and especially 43-49: On how CDBG funding can be used, along with local and other funding, for city-wide streetscape andtransportation infrastructure improvements plus Transition Planning:1. CDBG Recommendations PY06. submitted November 15, 2005. see pages 10, 12: CDBG Recommendations PY07/08. submitted January 1, 2007. see pages 11, 12: CDBG Five-year Recommendations PY08-13 "Create A City of Opportunity For All" submitted November 2007.see pages 4, 5: On how Somerville residents with disabilities can be engaged, using available local funding, to provide aCommunity Needs Assessment to City Staff:submitted May, 2006. Disability Commission Budget Request. -end of copy of February 9, 2012 email from Eileen Feldman to City Solicitor David Shapiro-