Accessible sidewalk ramps are focus of City CDBG funding

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published February 27, 2018

GROSSE POINTE CITY — Grosse Pointe City plans to use federal funds to continue to make its sidewalk ramps more accessible to those with disabilities.

The City intends to use all of this year’s Community Development Block Grant funds — $34,200 — to improve sidewalk ramps. For at least the past 11 years, City Manager Pete Dame said, the City has used CDBG funds to make accessibility improvements at its sidewalk ramps.

The funds — which originate from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development — are channeled through the Wayne County CDBG Program and can only be used for certain types of efforts.

During a Feb. 12 City Council meeting, City Councilman Andrew Turnbull asked Dame “how many handicap ramps” the City would be able to complete with this year’s funds.

“Not very many,” Dame admitted, estimating that this year’s funds would probably only allow for about 2 1/2 intersections. “It’s a dwindling amount of money that we’ve been getting.”

Last year, Dame said, the City combined two years’ worth of CDBG funding and bid out the sidewalk ramps with neighboring Grosse Pointe Park “to get better bids” from contractors.

“The vast majority of these ramps to be completed are on Maumee (Avenue),” said Dame, adding that the City plans on installing the new sidewalk ramps at the same time Maumee is undergoing road construction.

But, like the tortoise of fable fame, slow and steady is winning the race in the City. Turnbull said the municipality has been “chipping away” at its sidewalk ramps over the years, and Dame said the City is “almost done” with redoing all of the ramps.

The exception, said Dame, is the ramps along Jefferson Avenue, because Jefferson is a Wayne County road, meaning that the county retains responsibility for that.

Richard DeLisle, who lives on Fisher Road in the City, said that he uses these ramps as he walks through the community. He asked City leaders about their choice of tactile material, noting that there are several different options — rubber, concrete and cast iron.

“Some of them do not stand up well … and ultimately do not comply with ADA requirements,” DeLisle said.

Dame said that the City, for the last 10 years, has been using cast iron.

“We use the cast iron ones because we’ve found the rubber ones deteriorate,” Dame said. “The cast iron is the best approach.”

DeLisle had concerns about whether the cast iron was the right choice.

“While cast iron is desirable … they tend to be somewhat hazardous by virtue of ice building up on them (in the winter),” he said.

Dame said the cast iron tactile surfaces “do comply” with ADA requirements.

The council voted unanimously Feb. 12 in favor of the funding allocations.

The City held its first hearing on the proposed project administratively at City Hall Feb. 2, but received no public comments at that time, Dame said.