Contractors with the Texas Department of Transportation were making it a little easier for people who might have a hard time getting around to get around.
Work crews with Highway 19 Construction in Sulphur Springs have spent the last couple of weeks installing new American with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant ramps and walkways along Mallard Street in Palestine.
Texas Department of Transportation spokesman Larry Krantz said the project is an on-going one TxDOT takes on every year across the state.
“We’ve actually got these projects going in almost every area in our district right now,” Krantz said. “It’s a small job in the overall scheme of what TxDOT does on an annual basis, but it’s an extremely important one. We want to make sure everyone has access to all parts of where they live, whether they’re driving cars, riding scooters or just hoofing it.”
Krantz said the ramp projects are funded each year through the U.S. Department of Transportation. According to the federal office’s website, the ADA mandates state and local governments make sure people with disabilities have access to all pedestrian routes.
“An important part of this requirement is the obligation whenever streets, roadways, or highways are altered to provide curb ramps where street level pedestrian walkways cross curbs,” the site states. “Without curb ramps, sidewalk travel ... can be dangerous, difficult, or even impossible for people who use wheelchairs, scooters, and other mobility devices. Curb ramps allow people with mobility disabilities to gain access to the sidewalks and to pass through center islands in streets. Otherwise, these individuals are forced to travel in streets and roadways and are put in danger or are prevented from reaching their destination; some people with disabilities may simply choose not to take this risk and will not venture out of their homes or communities.”
Krantz said work shouldn’t last much longer, and urges drivers to be alert and watch for potential work sites at intersections around Palestine.
TxDOT’s website reports most pedestrian traffic accidents happen when people walk or ride a scooter or bike in the roadway. Recent reports indicate pedestrians are one of the few categories of road users which saw an increase in fatalities in the U.S. — 4,432 deaths reported in 2011.
TxDOT officials suggest every pedestrian remember these safety tips:
• Be very alert when crossing any roadway. Stay on the right-hand side of crosswalks. Drivers are supposed to yield the right of way to pedestrians in crosswalks.
• Yield to vehicles on the roadway if you cross the street at a place other than a marked crosswalk or pedestrian tunnel or crossing. If you're hit while jaywalking, the driver may not be liable, and his or her auto insurance may not cover your injuries.
• If the road has no sidewalk, walk on the left side of the road facing traffic.
Cristin Reece may be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.