Project to improve handicapped access at bus stops

       Wheelchair citizens will have an easier time getting on and off buses on Route 3 through the Westside, thanks to a stop-reconstruction project tentatively due to start in August.
       Expected to last up to four months, the work will chiefly involve installing new or expanded concrete pads at about 30 of the route's 85 bus stops and about 60 pedestrian ramps near those and others, according to Bill Bottini, construction coordinator with Mountain Metropoli-tan Transit, the city-owned bus system. Nearly all the stops getting attention will be those along Colorado Avenue between 8th and 31st streets. Although there will be some impacts on riders, all stops will remain open throughout the project, he added.
       Route 3 was chosen because it is Metro's third most popular route, having carried about 267,000 total trips last year, said Amy MacDonald of Metro's communications office. She noted that Routes 1 (the Hillside area) and 25 (Academy Boulevard) have already had similar upgrades.“It's going to help the disabled access transit better,” she commented. “Some places don't have pads or ramps.”
       A stop due for particularly extensive work is the one at the northeast corner of 31st and Colorado, where 125 feet of sidewalk will be poured. Currently, “the stop there is like an island,” MacDonald said.
       Even where the concrete pads are now accessible from the sidewalk, the city's thinking is that many are not expansive enough for people on wheelchairs to safely navigate up to the curb (where the more modern city buses have a lift to bring them on board). The replacement pads will follow the new City Engineering specification of 5 by 15 feet, as compared to the old sizes of 3 to 5 feet by 8 to 10 feet.
       As for the pedestrian ramps, they are to be installed if there are none now near a bus stop or if they are the old kind (gray in color). “That's pretty much everything between 8th and 31st, Bottini said.
       No bus benches are scheduled for addition or replacement. That's outside the scope of the project, Bottini said. The 15 benches now between 8th and 31st are what's left of 32 saying “Colorado Avenue - Where Legend Lives” that were installed 20 years ago as part of a city redevelopment effort.
       The overall upgrade project is expected to cost about $350,000. The main funding is coming from the Federal Transit Administra-tion, with another $70,000 from the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA) sales tax. The city is currently going through a bidding process to find a contractor. A selection is expected in about a month, after which work will begin, Bottini said.

Westside Pioneer article