PennDOT Continues Accessibility Project - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

PennDOT Continues Accessibility Project

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A lawsuit sparked several projects by both PennDOT and the city of Erie, to make sidewalks more accessible for people with disabilities.

Now PennDOT's six year project is nearing completion.

Getting around Erie is something most people don't think twice about, but for those in wheelchairs, it hasn't always been easy, or even possible.

"Communities are set up for people who are able bodied, and we want those we serve, people with disabilities, to be able to have ill access to the community and to go places and do things that able bodies people can do," said Bob Bach, who works for Voices for Independence.

VFI works to secure the rights of those with disabilities. Their concern lead to a lawsuit in 2006, against PennDOT.

Since then, the Department of Transportation has worked endlessly to rise to the call.

"We've been working on curb ramps for over six years now," said PennDOT's ADA Coordinator Bob Zarecky.

The  projects around the city may be a temporary inconvenience for pedestrians, but they're ultimately giving freedom and independence to people with disabilities.

"There was a time in downtown Erie when curb cuts didn't exist and you could live in the Boston Store and come out and go no more than the front door front step fort curb," said Bach, "and then you couldn't go two blocks and get a sandwich."

One of PennDOT's projects to address the problem is taking on curb cuts down all of Peach Street.

"At this point we've probably done anywhere between forty and fifty curb ramps on Peach Street," said PennDOT Project Supervisor John Murcavage. "At this point we have at least 80 to 100 more left."

It's just part of region wide project that spans Erie, Millcreek and Meadville.

The two current projects in Erie are adding hundreds more.

"Between those two projects there's approximately 610 curb ramps," said Zarecky. 

"Those curb cuts are much better now and there's more access downtown, there's still a lot of work to be done but at the same time we want the people we represent to be able to have full active access to the community," said Bach.

PennDOT's complete curb cut project is set to be done by December 31st of this year.

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