[nfbmi-talk] Why Not Michiganichigan?
Terry D. Eagle
terrydeagle at yahoo.com
Thu Sep 24 13:30:37 UTC 2015
How can any governmental official, like the Lt. Governor of a state, really
believe that when the state spends $120 million taxpayers money on a capitol
building renovation and new wing construction, that the building should be
exempt from making the building accessible to all citizens, and avoid
compliance with all codes and laws, including the ADA?
This is a perfect example of that which makes Donal Trump attractive to
voters, as it really demonstrates the stupidity of governmental leaders.
Idaho to spend $400K to bring renovated Capitol into compliance with ADA
Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell photo
Sloping, curving walkways, including this one, will have to be torn out and
replaced as part of $400,000 in modifications to bring Idaho's newly
state capitol into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
BOISE - Five years after completing a three-year, $120 million renovation of
its state capitol, Idaho is preparing to spend another $400,000 to bring the
building into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act - after
state officials wrongly assumed the historic structure was exempt.
"We were operating under the premise that we were not fully reconstructing
the capitol building," Jan Frew, state deputy public works administrator,
lawmakers last week. "It's a historic building, so we were utilizing many of
the exemptions that are allowed for historic buildings." Those included, for
example, making all programs in the building accessible, but not all doors
But the U.S. Department of Justice received a complaint that the building
renovation didn't meet the law's requirements, and after an extensive
negotiated 110 changes with state officials. Receiving a complaint, Frew
said, "triggers them to come out and look at absolutely everything."
The work will start this summer and be completed by July of 2017; it
includes everything from adding wheelchair-accessible seating to the House
galleries, to installing signage throughout the building that includes
Braille, to pouring new concrete ramps.
"When the Department of Justice became involved, their main interpretation
was that if you're spending $120 million, whether it's new or existing,
part of the capitol building should be accessible," Frew said. "They didn't
think that the historic building exceptions should apply any more."
She said, "We have gone back and forth on a number of issues. They have made
some concessions, a few. And we, of course, want to make the building as
as possible. So we have come to a compromise."
That compromise includes removing some VIP seating from the House and Senate
galleries to make room for the wheelchair-accessible spots, which means
a partial wall and relocating the big monitor of House votes so that it'll
be suspended from the ceiling; crafting new door pulls or levers that are
but are made to mimic the historic doorknobs they'll replace; adding signs
to direct people more easily to accessible routes, including accessible
and altering the east and west first-floor entrances to the capitol to
include accessible ramps, rather than the current three steps up.
But perhaps the most controversial requirement is that Idaho tear out and
replace two curved, sloping sidewalks that lead down to the new accessible,
south entrance that was added in the renovation - because they were found to
be a half-percent off from cross-slope requirements.
Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little, who serves on the state Capitol Commission,
said, "It was really frustrating to have to spend this much money, and I
capitol is so much more accessible than it used to be." The renovation
included adding underground wings with large new public hearing rooms,
elevators and more.
But Little said, "I guess we've got to do what we've got to do. . We want to
make darn sure that we're OK."
The cross-slope for the ramps is allowed to be at a maximum of 2 percent,
but when federal officials inspected, they found it measured 2.5 percent.
design showed it as the 2 percent, and it has not settled," Frew said. "It
was basically put in incorrectly. However, we accepted it, and the time for
requiring the contractors to come back in is long past."
In fact, the state had previously required contractors to tear out and re-do
those same sections of sloping, curving sidewalk. "In good conscience, since
we accepted their work, we didn't feel like we could go back to them and
say, 'Oh, by the way,'" Frew said.
Replacing just those sloping sidewalks and their handrails will cost about
$50,000, Frew estimated.
"Oh my goodness," responded Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho
Rep. Phylis King, D-Boise, asked Frew if there was "any way to appeal." Frew
responded that the state's options were to work with the Department of
or the department would take the state to court, "and spend years fighting
about what we could fix for about $400,000."
Funding for the modifications will come from state endowment funds that are
dedicated to maintenance of the state capitol.
Other modifications in the works include adding wheelchair-accessible
seating in the Lincoln Auditorium, the new large public hearing room that
in the renovation. More minor changes include adjusting door-opening
mechanisms and moving furniture that blocks accessibility.
A list of all 110 modifications, obtained under the Idaho Public Records
Act, shows an estimated total cost of $388,075.
Lt. Gov. Little, who presides over the state Senate when it's in session and
formerly served there for four terms, said, "All said and done, (given) the
fact that we did that marvelous remodel on time and on budget, $400,000 is
kind of a rounding error on a $120 million project."
He added, "We are really lucky in Idaho. . We're so blessed to have a
working capitol, and it's really a working capitol."
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