Waterloo looks to accessible bus benches - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waterloo looks to accessible bus benches

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The city of Waterloo is moving forward with plans to phase out their current bus benches and replace them with ones that are handicap accessible.

At Monday night's city council meeting, council members will re-visit an agreement on how the process will work. 

City Planner Aric Schroeder said the city has around 130 bus benches, and a majority of them do not meet standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The changes were prompted by an investigation from the Department of Justice. The DOJ first caught wind of the Waterloo bus benches posing a challenge when they received complaints about snow that was not being removed properly near the benches.

Bruce Kaesser who relied on public transportation five days a week says the snow is just one of the challenges he faces.

"The main problem with using bus benches now for me in the wheelchair is the wintertime," said Kaesser. 

Kaesser says the city cleans the snow from the street but it ends up on the curb, making it tough to access the bus benches.

"Can't reach the access to the sidewalks, or the buses, or the street lights," said Kaesser.

Kaesser, who is on the ADA Compliance Commission went to the city with the challenges he had been facing. Several others filed a complaint with the DOJ. However, the DOJ found that just simply removing the snow from the grass still didn't solve the problem. 

Schroeder says the DOJ pointed to bus benches like the one on Kimball Ave. in front of Kimball Ridge Center, saying they aren't ADA complaint because of the grassy area. 

The city has plans to remove around 130 benches and replace them with paved concrete pads, which they've started to install. The paved concrete pads allow those in wheelchairs to have easier accessibility.

"I'm trying to make this city more accessible for everybody," said Kaesser. "Not just people in wheelchairs but for everybody. The city has things I want to be able to enjoy, I should be able to use them. 

During the phase out, the city will keep around 25 bus benches. By May 2018, those remaining bus benches will also be removed. 

According to Schroeder, the ADA Compliance Commission had previously voted to use their allocated bond money to help with the first phase of the project.

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