Pedestrians who have physical limitations will now find it easier to negotiate in downtown Cody and around more neighborhoods.
To meet federal Americans With Disabilities Act standards, city officials dedicated one-fifth of Cody’s $5 million 1-cent specific purpose sales tax revenue toward making curb ramp improvements. The project also involved redoing associated sidewalk, curb and gutter, and pavement replacement.
With the city’s two-phase curb ramp improvement project now done, 159 more pedestrian street crossings are rebuilt, making it possible for people who have disabilities to safely transition from sidewalk to street.
Levi Haugen, who sells candy and treats in the Big Horn Basin through his Spirit Mountain Treats business, understands first hand the benefits of ADA compliant infrastructure. The Cody resident in his 30s uses a wheelchair.
“(As) someone who has dealt with having a disability all my life, it’s rather important to have access to every place I possibly can,” he said. “When access is limited, it makes it challenging. This holds true for going up and down sidewalks and cut outs.”
The new ADA ramp runs in Cody have dome-shaped bumps that serve as a warning when felt underfoot or with a cane by people who are blind or have low vision.
Haugen appreciates this feature as well.
“I (don’t have) good vision and depth perception, so I really like the new cutouts that have the bumps because I am able to see where I’m headed more easily,” he said.
Cody High School teacher Chuck Flickinger, paralyzed at age 58 in a March 2015 accident in the Wind River Canyon, is pleased with ADA ramp improvements the city has done since the accident.
“My first weeks back from Craig Hospital (Denver) were frustrating,” he said. “The work done around the high school (since then) is marvelous.”
He characterized navigating intersections off Sheridan in a wheelchair as an “adventure.”
“I got stuck going down the ramp to enter the street,” he said. “Usually there are people around to help, but not always, so I’m excited they are working on improvements.”
The city finished its 2019 ADA Ramps Improvements Project on Oct. 1.
Phase 2, which involved 71 ramps, finished under budget and on time, said Phillip Bowman, public works director, at a recent city council meeting.
To close out the second phase, he asked the city council to approve a change order that included some adjustments due to weather delays and repairs to a concrete wall.
The original Phase 2 contract with Big Horn Redi Mix was for $372,014. The council approved amending the work plan and lowering the total amount due to Big Horn Redi Mix by $14,667.
In 2018 inclement weather was cause for Phase 1 contractor Harris Trucking to end work earlier than expected.
Weather intervened again last spring when rain and downtown street flooding kept workers from pouring concrete. The approved change order added 10 days to the original 75 days contracted with Big Horn Redi Mix.
In July, project engineer Morrison-Maierle informed BH Redi Mix manager Daniel DeVries the city wanted the contractor to repair a concrete wall by a curb ramp on the northwest corner of 13th and Alger. The wall repair was in addition to work specified in the original contract.
Expenses for both phases and 159 ramps total $978,465 to date.
Bowman said one more invoice is expected from Morrison-Maierle in the $4,000-$5,000 range. But the project will still finish $15,000 or more under budget.
In addition to ADA compliance, the public works director pointed out another advantage to the community, saying because the engineer firm and both contractors are Cody businesses, most of the nearly $1 million spent has remained in the community.
Bowman said any leftover and excess tax funds can go toward additional ADA ramps or chip sealing – another 1-cent tax city project.
More to do
If a federal transportation grant for a school safety crossing project is secured from the Wyoming Department of Transportation, the city could put excess tax monies toward matching that grant.
Bowman said the project is an appropriate use of specific purpose tax revenue because it includes installation of ADA ramps.
While the project reduced the overall number of 290 citywide noncompliant ramps by more than half, 131 more street ramps still require reconfiguration.
Should Park County put a 1-cent specific-purpose sales and use tax request on the 2020 ballot, additional ADA ramp improvements is among a list of suggested projects Bowman has recommended the city council consider for specific-purpose funding.