First of all, I want to thank Jeff Dunckel for everything he has done to bring about a mutually-beneficial solution to the situation. I hope it works! I am sure that I was the least-calm person involved in this, but Jeff took it in-stride and always worked to improve the situation, rather than make things worse. Montgomery County should be grateful that they have him. I know I am.
PEPCO and MCDOT met in front of my home on Monday morning, and agreed upon a new course of action that would bring this segment of sidewalk more into compliance with ADA guidelines. PEPCO is putting the new poles in the parking lanes – closer to the center of the ROW. MCDOT will come behind and extend the sidewalk out two feet into the parking lane. There should be plenty of room on this newly-widened sidewalk.
Furthermore, I am very hopeful that MCDOT will quickly develop a self-evaluation and transition plan for utility poles in County ROW.
MDSHA needs to do the same. They have detailed transition plans for a lot of issues, such as; ramps, APS, crosswalks, etc. There is nothing in there plan about utility poles. Given that there are probably thousands of utility poles like this one in the middle of a sidewalk – MDSHA needs to address this issue immediately. Until then, MDSHA is in violation of federal law –sec. 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
Barden v. City of Sacramento, CA
On January 22, 2004, the court granted final approval of the settlement in Barden v. Sacramento. This case set a nationwide precedent requiring cities and other public entities to make all public sidewalks accessible. As a result of the court's ruling in this case, public entities must address barriers such as missing or unsafe curb cuts throughout the public sidewalk system, as well as barriers that block access along the length of the sidewalks. Following the court victory, the parties reached a settlement addressing all sidewalk barrier issues City-wide. The settlement provides that for up to 30 years, the City of Sacramento will allocate 20% of its annual Transportation Fund to make the City's pedestrian rights-of-way accessible to individuals with vision and/or mobility disabilities. This will include installation of compliant curb ramps at intersections; removal of barriers that obstruct the sidewalk, including narrow pathways, abrupt changes in level, excessive cross slopes, and overhanging obstructions; and improvements in crosswalk access.
USDOJ amicus briefs filed with the courts in support of the appellants (Barden):
MDSHA should know this already, because they just took a knock from FHWA for APS.
Finally, let me just say that I am tired. The last week has worn me out. The next time you feel resentment from something you read here, remember than I am not having fun, I’m not getting paid, and I don’t have an assistant or team working for me (well, MCDOT, sometimes). I am doing this because I think it is the right thing to do. I am not looking for trouble – trouble is looking for me.
(I moved inside because I didn't want to be a distraction to the workers.)