Last year, during final inspection of the new Washington Way Bridge, staff determined that much of the sidewalk on the bridge doesn’t meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards because the cross-slope of the sidewalk is steeper than the maximum 2% slope allowed by ADA standards. This deficiency was caused by the contractor’s inadequate quality control and techniques to construct the sidewalks, and is the responsibility of the contractor to repair. The bridge contractor Carter and Company, Inc was notified of the sidewalk deficiency and has taken responsibility for the sidewalk noncompliance and will make the sidewalk repairs at no additional cost to the City. For the past year, the City and the contractor have been exploring alternatives to having to make the repairs and what types of repairs would be most effective to pursue.
Even though most of the noncompliant sidewalk is only slightly above (¼ to ½ percent) the maximum cross-slope allowed by the ADA, ADA regulations do not provide for a tolerance above the specified 2% maximum cross-slope. The City notified the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) of the sidewalk noncompliance. FHWA and WSDOT are the regulatory agencies and were funding partners for the bridge replacement project.
In an effort to explore alternatives to removing and replacing the sidewalk, City staff asked a local disabled resident who uses a manual wheelchair, to use the sidewalks on the bridge and describe any adverse effects on the ability to use the sidewalks. The disabled resident reported no impact on the ability to use the sidewalk. With this information that the noncompliant sidewalk did not appear to impact a disabled person’s ability to use the bridge, City staff approached WSDOT and FHWA with a proposal to obtain a mitigation fee that would have been paid by the contractor in lieu of repairing the sidewalk. This fee would have been applied toward installing new accessible curb ramps at locations in Longview that do not have ramps. This proposed mitigation would have benefitted the disabled community much more than correcting the sidewalk cross-slope on the bridge. However, the City’s proposal was rejected due to zero tolerance in the ADA regulations, and the City was directed to repair the noncompliant sidewalk.
After considering a variety of potential repair techniques proposed by the contractor, including removing and replacing the sidewalk, installing a thin polymer and/or cementitious top coating, and grinding and resealing the sidewalk, the City concluded the grinding technique is the best method to correct the cross-slope deficiencies.
In order to correct the slope deficiencies of the sidewalk and provide a uniform appearance on both sides of the bridge, the sidewalk surface will first be ground with a walk-behind grinder, followed by shot blasting to smooth the grinding marks, and finished with a colored sealer to provide concrete protection. The grinder cannot get any closer than about eight inches to the bridge rail, which will leave a portion of the existing sidewalk as an accent strip along the bridge rail. The approach sidewalk on each corner of the bridge will also be replaced to meet ADA standards and a new score pattern will be used on those panels to provide a transition to the bridge.
The sidewalk repair work is schedule to begin September 11, 2017 and is anticipated to take approximately three weeks to complete. During this time the bridge sidewalks will be closed intermittently on one side at a time as the contractor makes the repairs. The travel lanes adjacent to the sidewalks will also be closed intermittently on one side at a time between Nichols and Kessler Boulevards in order to provide a safe work zone of the contractor.