Seeking Accountability for Poor Curb-Ramp Installation on Park Presidio

park-presidio-curb_1.JPGPhoto: Susan Vaughan

In early April, Caltrans contractors replaced the sidewalk curb ramps along Park Presidio, but left without ensuring a smooth transition between the clean, new curb ramps and the road pavement.  Instead, they filled in the spaces between the curb ramps and the roads with bumpy, uneven black asphalt – or they left unfilled gaps. While a minor difference in grade may not appear to be a problem for most pedestrians, it is a major burden for visually and mobility impaired users trying to access bus stops along Park Presidio and its cross streets. At the least it’s an unacceptably sloppy job, though the new curb ramps could be in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

“Accessible routes of travel are required from the new curb ramp through the crosswalk, even if the item is
still under construction," said John Paul Scott of the Mayor’s Office on Disability. "The asphalt should be suitably patched even if the milling and resurfacing of the street is to be done later.”

Park Presidio is a part of California State Route 1, but this
particular project is a joint project between Caltrans and the San
Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. Estimated to cost $18.4 million,
its purpose is to upgrade signalization and curb ramps in order to
improve traffic flow and enhance pedestrian safety from Lake Street
past San Francisco State University.  It is scheduled for completion by
the summer of 2010.

Adding insult to potential injury, Ghilotti Brothers, Inc., the sub-contractor hired by W. Bradley Electric, Inc. to complete that portion of the job, was supposed to only do alternate diagonal corners at each intersection.

“It didn’t happen that way,” said W. Bradley Electric Project Manager Brian Finley.  “There was scolding going on with the contractors.”

At the intersection of Fulton and Park Presidio, for example, Ghilotti Brothers did both the northeast and the northwest corners at the same time. This created the potential for collisions involving pedestrians and vehicles who were trying to cross the boulevard, as there is no crosswalk at the southern end of the intersection.

Finley said that the crumbly black asphalt – known as ‘cold patch’ or ‘cut back’ – is supposed to be temporary. When countdown signals and fresh cement are installed south of Golden Gate Park, the contractors will return to intersections north of the park to lay down ‘hot patch’ – or smoother, more permanent concrete transitions from the curb ramps to the roadways.

When the ‘hot patch’ will be installed is still not clear.

The San Francisco Department of Public Works inspected the intersections between Lake and Golden Gate Park, according to DPW spokesperson Christine Falvey.  "Our street and sidewalk inspectors are contacting Caltrans to restore the curb areas (even temporarily) to provide better access until they can come back and complete the work."

“Caltrans and the MTA are both talking about the possibility of additional corrective asphalt” at the intersections, added Finley, but if representatives of Caltrans and the MTA do not give him instructions soon, he said he’ll  "be obligated to proceed.”  Once he receives word from Caltrans, contractors will be able to go back in and complete the curb ramp project.

According to Ghilotti Brothers Project Manager Mike Powers, the
correction of the ramps, with hot patch, may happen on Thursday and
Friday, June 19th and 20th.  Per the contract, the hot patch will
extend 2 to 4 feet into the road pavement at most intersections, but at
one corner at California and Park Presidio, it may extend 7 to 8 feet.

W. Bradley Electric and Ghilotti Brothers also disturbed SF Recreation and Park Department work along the pathways between Funston and Park Presidio and 14th Avenue and Park Presidio.  Sprinklers and plants were damaged or removed, according to nearby resident and Recreation and Parks volunteer Patty Phleger.

"We all want them to be accountable and for them to take care of their mistakes," said Phleger.

  • Thank you for running down the details on this and helping hold everyone accountable. In my neighborhood the intersection of Broderick and Grove got a similar treatment. I make frequent calls to 311, but I haven’t yet called this in.

    I’ve taken a snapshot, which you can see at the URL above.

  • jay

    The SW corner of Park Presidio & California is the worst of them all. The way the curb ramps are done, I believe will encourage flooding as well.

    I think the contractors and the project management did a terrible job in terms of how the street light poles were placed, very sloppy in terms of uniformity. I’m happy that there a better lights, but I don’t like how the job was rushed. Why didn’t CalTrans just hire the same folk who did the Lombard/Richardson lights upgrade.

  • Ghilotti Bros, Inc. is committed to safe access for all the traveling public, especially visually and mobility impaired users on our construction projects.
    As President, I apologize for any harm or inconvenience this may have caused.
    Because we have been building projects in San Francisco for over 25 years (Crissy Field Renovation, Octavia Streetscape, and Lombard St.(the crooked part) to name a few) we consider it our neighborhood too, and feel an obligation to do better and we will! As soon as I read this article today (6/23), I drove the project and have committed crews to be there tomorrow to start the necessary improvements. Thank you in advance for your patience and cooperation.

  • Susan Vaughan

    Great! I just ran into MTA Director Bruce Oka on the bus. He lives in the Richmond District near Park Presidio and had not had a chance to go check on the curb ramps himself (he uses a wheelchair), but I will be thrilled to give him this news the next time I see him.

    You will be doing alternate diagonal corners, I assume.

  • This problem got fixed in our neighborhood a few days ago! (The intersection was actually Broderick @ Hayes, not @ Grove). How is Park Presidio now?

  • Susan Vaughan

    Hello Dale,

    The contractor has indeed returned and repaired the curb ramps. You can see my photographs here:

    http://carfreetalk.blogspot.com/2009/07/about-those-curb-ramps.html

    Sue

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