By this time next month, a major sidewalk improvement project in Miami should be nearing completion.
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation has begun pouring new ADA-compliant sidewalks along Steve Owens Boulevard. The improved walkways will follow both sides of Owens from C Street SW to about one-quarter mile east.
ODOT spokesman Cole Hackett said Tuesday that the project ought to be finished sometime in July, weather permitting. Preliminary work started May 12 and the project is under a 60-day contract, Hackett said, though he indicated that 60 days is not a magic number.
“We're probably looking at working through July,” he said. “We're really kind of weather-dependent.”
The main thrust of the project is to make walkways ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible, allowing wheelchairs easier access and use. By ADA guidelines, this could include everything from installing properly sized curb ramps to widening the walkways.
Hackett specifically said that ramps would be installed at all of the cross streets along Steve Owens, starting east from C Street SW for roughly a quarter mile. And the small stretch of walkway that has already been built, and is being prepared, is noticeably much wider than the average sidewalk.
Having ADA compliant sidewalks along State Highway 10 in Miami simply clears the way for road improvements in the future, Hackett said, by meeting state requirements.
“If it's touching the road, it has to meet ADA standards before improvements can be started,” he said.
While the other end of the highway, on the east side of Miami, is being prepared for road widening, no specific project is on the docket for the west end, according to Hackett.
The project is being paid for by the State of Oklahoma, using federal stimulus dollars. ODOT has allocated $484,614.50 for Miami's sidewalk project alone. A total of $26 million has been set aside to pay for similar ADA work along highways in other small communities around the state. According to ODOT spokesperson Kenna Mitchell, municipalities are normally expected to meet ADA mandates on their own. However, federal stimulus money has allowed the State of Oklahoma to give small communities a helping hand in that area.
The work is being limited to 46 Oklahoma cities, including Miami, all of which fall under a certain population limit. Bigger cities in the state can afford to pay for extra sidewalk guidelines, whereas many of the smaller communities cannot, Mitchell said.