Kansas City infrastructure bond could help city better comply with Americans with Disabilities Act

Posted at 7:47 PM, Jan 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-25 12:54:51-05

Most days Susie Haake travels three or four blocks to get to the bus. But Haake uses a wheelchair and some of the sidewalks make that a difficult trip.

“The sidewalks are a real issue for me,” Haake said. “I have to go in the street to get where I need to go and that’s not safe for anyone.” 

The Kansas City City Council wants to fix this issue with a $800 million infrastructure bond. 

RELATED: Woman has filed more than 200 Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuits

On Thursday, the council unanimously voted to put the bond on the April 4th ballot. If approved by voters, the city would borrow money over the next 20 years to fix bridges, streets, sidewalks as well as make buildings compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

According to Meg Conger, the city’s full-time ADA compliance manager, the city has cataloged tens of thousands of ADA violations.

For example, the bathrooms in City Hall are not big enough for wheelchairs to turn around. The soap dispensers are also placed too high. 

“Accessibility is an ongoing improvement process,” said Julie DeJean, the CEO of The Whole Person, a non-profit corporation that provides community-based services for people with disabilities. 

In 2012, Kansas City reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice to improve its access. Among the facilities, the DOJ found violations at City Hall, the Starlight Theater and the Swope Park Pool. 

Conner said the city has spent millions of dollars fixing doorknobs and installing audible traffic signals for blind residents. However, there is still millions of more dollars worth of work to do. 

"There’s a huge amount of people with physical disabilities in our community and we want to give all of us an equal playing field so all of us can get to a bus, get to shopping areas, can get to our cars and take a walk down the street on good sidewalks,” said Haake. 



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