I would like to address the section 1105.5 Pedestrian Overpasses and
I would not support making elevators mandatory at pedestrian overpasses and
underpasses. If local agencies feel that an elevator bests meets the needs of
its local citizens, then can be an allowable expense on a federal aid project.
However, most situations would not require an elevator, and it should not be
forced upon them.
Nebraska Department of Roads funds viaducts and pedestrian overpasses every
year. Requiring elevators would certainly limit the amount of bridges we could
build. In fact our policy actually says "The use of elevators is not recommended
and should be discouraged becasue of high vandalism and maintenance costs." The
burden of maintenance costs to cities should not be minimized. It actually may
be more cost effective to have people in wheelchairs who don't want to use the
overpass to call local police or a cab company to transfer them across the
tracks. As Nebraska has raillines with 70 trains a day, we would like to
eliminate as many of the at-grade crossings as possible. The draft guidelines,
as written, would seriously impact what we could do.
Other impacts would be trails. We build trails along banks of streams and they
need to go under bridges. In this case your draft would dictate an elevator with
a 60 inch raise in elevation. The elevator would be in the floodway, which is
ridiculous. Elevators on bike trails are not necessary.
I have included a picture of railway underpass in Kimball, Nebraska, population
2,574. From the information given in your draft this would have a grade raise of
more than 60 inches. Downtown is behind you in the picture, and a man in a
wheelchair lives on the other side of the underpass. He currently uses the
underpass. An elevator would need to be on railroad property as they own pretty
much everything you see in the picture. The town can repair the sidewalk with
bridge repairs at a fairly minimal cost. Building and maintaining two elevators,
if the railroad would allow them, would not be reasonable.
My other comment is on the section of On-street parking. section
"One parking space on each block face" is what you would require. Some of the
blocks in Nebraska are only 300 feet long. Handicap parking on the state highway
would probably not be the safest place for handicap parking. I would suggest
that the committee look at applying the 1 space for every 25 spaces in a broad
sense in a downtown area along with the sliding scale. Using your scale on a
project I have in Wayne, Nebraska would require 1 space in 8 a handicap space.
This would make it difficult for non-handicapped people to actually find a spot
to park. This would include elderly people who are not actually handicapped, but
have difficulty walking too far. Most city administrators should be able to sit
down with their councils and engineers to determine where would be the safest
place to put handicap parking and ensure that their downtown has a proper number
of handicap spaces. Making broad statements because "the proposed requirement
would be easier to implement and enforce" is NOT in the best interests of all
citizens, including those who need to use the parking.
Liz Wunderlich, P.E.
Nebraska Department of Roads