Downtown sidewalk construction underway

Construction has begun downtown to improve accessibility for residents with disabilities so they are not limited or put at risk around the city.

With the lack of sidewalks, the city is playing catch up and has to install sidewalks in locations that do not have them. Much development where sidewalks currently do not exist was constructed more than 10 years ago, before there was an understanding of the need for multi-modal transportation options.

The City Commission allocated $9 million to address those issues. A portion of the funding has been used for improvements to the downtown area. All renovations are projected to be finished this summer.

Sidewalks are added, as funding is made available. The 2020 Sales Taxes Extension included more than $35 million of funding to address projects on the list. This funding will allow the city to make significant progress in improving pedestrian connectivity in the coming years.

Public Work has spoken with representatives from the American with Disabilities Act to ensure all requirements meet regulations for all construction for sidewalks and facilities around the city.

Eric Gooch, a program engineer, for the Underground Utility and Public Infrastructure for the City of Tallahassee said that the staff is well prepared and knowledgeable about all regulations.

“City Staff have been through training and keep up to date on the current and proposed requirements for the American with Disabilities Act and also local and national regulations that may be more stringent than the ADA regulations.”

The City has sidewalk needs that include over 100 miles of sidewalks throughout the city.

Local disabled vet Herbert Alexander said he made a complaint to the city about Magnolia years ago but has not seen any changes until recently.

“I run into problems with sidewalks all the time especially on Magnolia down by the newspaper; when I come off that walk you have to get in the streets hoping that a car isn’t coming or coming too fast.”

Although money has been used for the downtown, repairs are not limited to downtown. Public Works and their construction crew are working throughout the city to address these issues.

In 2003 a comprehensive survey was performed throughout much of the City, identifying areas of concern for the disabled.

Jakari Wilkerson, an ESE teacher at R. Frank Nims Middle School said that he notices the problem of mobile hindrance daily. He said that the changes should have been put into action a while ago.

“I notice the lack of ramps and sidewalks causes mobility problems and as an ESE teacher,” he said. “I believe that the city of Tallahassee should have made these changes a long time ago because the city has been developing for some time.”

Gooch has ensured that the construction crews have worked to address ADA deficiencies since they realized the problem and confirms all regulations by the ADA will be taken care of  by this summer so all residents are comfortable around the city.