Sidewalks in Bristol, Va. to become more accessible to people with disabilities

BRISTOL, Va. - Sidewalks along Commonwealth Ave. in Bristol, Virginia have been torn up to make the walkways more accessible to people with disabilities.

It's the third phase of a project that has been going on for at least two years.

Greg Morrell, who has spent the last 40 years in a wheelchair, told us the project is already making a big difference in the community.

"Curb cuts make it accessible and the sidewalks are level and you don't have those cross slopes so it's very convenient," described Morrell.

He told us curb cuts are another name for the accessibility ramps. Cross slopes, said Morrell, are where the sidewalk slopes downward at driveways.

He told us he's seen how curbs have kept people with disabilities from enjoying the places where they live.

"At some point you just go, it's not worth it," said Morrell. "I can't find out how to maneuver around town or around my neighborhood and the street is dangerous so I just give up."

The city of Bristol, Va. is trying to keep that from happening.

They're upgrading and adding handicap-accessible ramps to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The new ramps have to be 36 inches wide to comply with the ADA standards. They also need the correct length to height ratio.

We measured one of the new ramps and discovered it was within ADA regulations at about 60 inches wide. It also was seven feet long and seven inches high, which is the correct length to height ratio.

"We want to make our city accessible to everyone and not have any barriers for people to get where they need to go," said Jennifer Wilson, the city's spokesperson.

Wilson told us this third stage of the project focuses on Commonwealth Ave. from State St. to Euclid Ave.

State St. and Euclid Ave., from Gate City Highway to Moore St., were completed during the first two stages of the project.

Greg Morrell said the progress has been noticeable.

"Downtown State Street is a great example of things that are done correctly and they're done really nice and convenient for everyone," said Morrell.

We're told this project is being funded in part by a community development block grant.

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