Curb ramps put bump in Liberty Lane plans

DANVILLE — Incorporating improvements to the pedestrian curb ramps along Liberty Lane has pushed back plans to resurface the heavily traveled street that's severely deteriorated in some sections. But city officials still expect work on Liberty to begin in July.

City Engineer David Schnelle said the city now must include upgrades to the curb ramps in the project design to meet guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The city is planning to overlay, rather than completely resurface, Liberty Lane from North Vermilion Street to the city limits, which are about a quarter-mile west of Bowman Avenue. Newell Township is responsible for the remaining quarter mile of Liberty Lane.

Last year, the city improved North Gilbert Street by overlaying the existing pavement with a new coat of material and recently did the same on a section of North Jackson Street but didn't have to upgrade curb ramps. Overlays don't cost as much as total resurfacing projects and allow the city to stretch its motor fuel tax dollars and address more deteriorating city streets each construction season.

But now, Schnelle said, such overlays are being interpreted by the Illinois Department of Transportation as more than maintenance projects, and as a result, overlays will require the city to include improvements to curb ramps to meet ADA guidelines. Upgrades could include ensuring that the ramps don't have too much vertical rise or that warning features, like a raised texture, are included in the ramps. He said IDOT has clarified that such upgrades must be included in any IDOT-involved projects or any work that's funded with motor fuel tax dollars.

Schnelle said the goal now is to bid the project in early June and start construction in July.

The project will be done in two phases, with the first involving removing badly deteriorated sections of the street and patching them with asphalt. He said work will be suspended for about 45 days, allowing traffic to travel over that work to help compact the asphalt patches. Then, phase two will begin with the overlay.

"So, we are intentionally putting that time lapse in there," said Schnelle, who emphasizes that point, because he anticipates the public thinking that project will be done after phase one.

The only time city officials expect Liberty Lane to be closed during the project will be when the railroad upgrades its crossing to a concrete one.

Schnelle said the city is also working with Newell Township to get that last quarter mile of Liberty resurfaced as well.

Tom Golden, Newell highway commissioner, said if the township legally can, it will bid its section along with the city's section but as a separate project. Golden said the township's approximately quarter-mile portion, which is east of the Stonegate subdivision entrance, is not in horrible shape, but there is some rutting and cracking in the road's surface. So the plan, he said, is to overlay directly onto the existing pavement.

"It's not in that terrible of a shape to warrant milling it out," said Golden, who explained that where the two sections meet would be a smooth transition. "That would last quite a while. There wouldn't be a crevice or bump anywhere there."

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