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Medford will get more ADA ramps

More wheelchair-accessible sidewalk ramps will pop up in west Medford next year if the city awards a $623,300 contract for the project to the low bidder, Roxy Ann Rock of Medford.

“We have several people with wheelchairs,” said Sara Davis, director of Living Opportunities Inc. “They can’t get anywhere if they don’t have wheelchair accessible sidewalks.” Living Opportunities serves about 200 residents with disabilities in the greater Medford area.

Roxy Ann Rock came in significantly lower than four other companies and fell in the price range estimated by city engineers. The next lowest bid was Central Pipeline at $688,450, and the highest was Knife River Materials at $1.39 million. The City Council is scheduled to consider approving the Roxy Ann Rock contract at its Dec. 17 meeting. 

The city will upgrade 186 ramps during the first three months of next year, with the money coming directly out of its paving budget.

The new ramps will mean the city has less money available for repaving streets, which typically runs $1 million to $1.5 million a year.

“It’s a big bite,” said Cory Crebbin, Public Works director. “The jump to $620,000 is kind of rough.”

The city typically spends up to $200,000 a year for new sidewalk ramps, he said.

The city was on target to continuously improve its streets with a repair program that included paving and other maintenance efforts.

According to a pavement assessment, the city was showing better improvements than expected to the overall condition of its streets, Crebbin said.

It will take about four years or so before the impact on streets from the higher costs devoted to ramps can be assessed, he said.

A new federal requirement forces the city to replace older ramps because they aren’t compliant with the latest Americans with Disabilities Act rules. The requirement affects any street that is being repaved.

Ramps with a yellow rubber surface are generally compliant with the new rules. Those without the rubber surface may not be compliant. Ramps are used by people with disabilities, parents with strollers and others.

Most of the city's expense next year will be to replace out-of-compliance ramps, though some of the money will pay for ramps at intersections where none now exist.

Davis said the rubber surface on the newer-style ramps helps orient those with disabilities as they are trying to cross the street.

If a street doesn’t have ramps, it can create a safety issue for those in wheelchairs.

“They have to drive down the street,” Davis said. “It can be a dangerous situation to be on the road with a car."

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at @reporterdm.