Sacramento disdains walkers

The City of Sacramento, both the city government and many people who live here, have a picture of a pretty good place to live, and work, and play. And that is true, to some degree. Good climate (except middle of summer), a wealth of trees, interesting and useful businesses (at least in midtown), mostly flat (for bicyclists), two rivers and the confluence, moderately friendly people. But the transportation network sucks.

Heavy rain of course brings out the flaws in the transportation system. Flooded roadways that at the least make it hard to get places, and at worst kill people. Trees and tree debris blocking both sidewalks and bike lanes. Light rail that runs late or not at all, buses behind schedule. All of those are important issues. But this post is about flooded ADA ramps.

flooded ADA ramp, Q St at 13th St
flooded ADA ramp, Q St at 13th St

The above photo is a mild case, as it does not make the ADA ramp and connecting sidewalks impassible. It just means wet feet for people who can’t jump the puddle, or wet wheels for people with mobility devices. You might think that this is a problem created by the storms. But look closer. The ADA ramp was built so that it is LOWER than the drain inlet. This puddle will remain until it evaporates, and if the rain continues, it will be there for quite some while. There are two explanations, and I don’t know which is correct. 1) The ramp and drain inlet was designed by an incompetent engineer; or 2) ramp and drain inlet were not built as designed, meaning that the construction inspector did not notice or did not care that it was not installed as designed. In either case, it is the fault of the city.

You might think that this is an unusual circumstance, but if you walk and notice, about half the ADA ramps in the city have this same problem. Why is this so common? Because the city doesn’t care. The engineer doesn’t care, or the inspector doesn’t care. Every one of these situations expresses the city’s disdain for walkers, and users of mobility devices.

I started with a mild example, but to present a much worse example:

flooded ADA ramp and sidewalk, 3rd St at O St
flooded ADA ramp and sidewalk, 3rd St at O St

This puddle won’t disappear for at least a week, even without additional rain. This is not a problem of a plugged drain inlet. The ramp and sidewalk was designed to be BELOW the gutter level along the street.

I have reported this location multiple times to the city, over the years. It has never been fixed. When I submit a 311 report, it is marked as complete without anything being done. Which is not untypical for the city, most of my 311 reports are ignored, marked as complete without anything being done.

Does this bother you? Get in touch with your city council member, provide photos and stories about how this impacts you and the people you know. Ask council members to hold city staff responsible for their incompetence and lack of care. If the city manager can’t fix these problems, it is time for a new city manager. If Public Works can’t fix this problem, it is time for a new head of Public Works. Anything else is not acceptable.

Author: Dan Allison

Dan Allison is a Safe Routes to School Coordinator in the Sacramento area. Dan dances and backpacks, as much as possible.

2 thoughts on “Sacramento disdains walkers”

  1. Wild idea, but if we’re going to address ADA issues at crossings, let’s just get to the heart of the (car) problem and institute raised intersections (or tables), at least in our residential streets. Oakland is trialing them and even CalTrans is testing one out in the bay, how about Sacramento?

  2. I agree, the city is not passable for those not traveling by car. The people responsible should be held responsible and fired if necessary. This impacts residents and visitors and makes people want to go elsewhere to shop.

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