Jackson’s Fondren sidewalk project is a welcome change for some residents. The plan aims to bring the neighborhood into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, but its start was delayed. The streets now are dangerous for people with disabilities, but improvement is on the way.
This isn’t the first time Jackson put off fixing up Fondren’s streets. It’s been on hold for four years. But the Jackson Free Press reports progres is close, with the city eyeing January bids, but the area is dangerous, and the city is hoping to fix that by improving existing and adding new amenities to the commercial district.
Why the Streets Need Fixing
A resident recorded some of Fondren’s dangers in late 2015, according to the Free Press. Scott Crawford told the publication he must often travel in the middle of the street, or against traffic, and that’s not the worst of it.
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Crawford’s newspaper clippings presented to Jackson’s ADA council earlier in 2015 detailed three wheelchair-related accident deaths in Jackson in the last three years, and more than a hundred nationwide. Fondren is no exception to the perils.
The ADA instructed cities to reach compliance by 1995, but Jackson’s 2011 plan hasn’t made life easier, or safer, according to Crawford. He and the Press mention sidewalks abruptly ending, utility poles cutting off travel, and even newly installed curb cuts failing ADA standards. All this can force Crawford and his friends into danger.
It’s been 26 years since the ADA, and in some parts of Fondren, getting around is still a challenge.
For now, the city is trying to cut costs and make the plan work, according to Robert Lee, an engineer with the Jackson Department of Public Works. He was optimistic about its approval, and had discussed changes with the Mississippi Department of Transportation, according to the Free Press.
What Does the Plan Improve?
The council agenda item calls for work starting at the North State Street and Old Canton Road split, covering the commercial district around Fondren Place, Duling Avenue, and Morgan Place. The area has several restaurants, banks, a supermarket, and more.
The plan will also improve and install bus stops, bike racks, lighting, and other amenities, giving residents protection from the road and weather. ADA compliance is a big part, but city officials say they want to enhance development opportunities, too.
The cost is roughly $300,000, to be split 20-80 between Jackson and MDOT. But the improvements could take awhile, and you could find yourself in danger before then.
What If Something Bad Happens?
The roads can be a hazard to anyone. Fondren and other roads aren’t equipped to comply with ADA standards, which can put you in danger.
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