The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT), in partnership with Helena Sand and Gravel, White Resources Group and Stahly Engineering, is updating sidewalk corners and non-compliant mid-block sidewalk sections throughout the City of Townsend with a project called Townsend ADA. Townsend is one of three southwest Montana communities receiving ADA upgrades included in the parent project named Butte District ADA Upgrades, which is part of MDT’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Transition Plan. Updates to sidewalk corners will allow all users to more easily get on and off sidewalks. People with disabilities, parents with strollers or small children on bikes, delivery drivers, older adults and other groups will be able to use more town streets without worrying about sharp drop offs on curbs once the sidewalk corners have been made more accessible.
Purpose and Need
Townsend ADA is rooted in MDT’s ongoing efforts to provide greater accessibility to residents and visitors across Montana. These improvements serve the Townsend residents and visitors who have a disability, as well as people who use walkers or canes and other assistive devices like crutches and people pushing strollers, bikes or delivery dollies.
Where are the ADA improvements located?
ADA improvements will be installed on these streets in Townsend:
- Front Street (US 287) between E Street and 7th Street
- Broadway Street (US 12) between Pine Street and Harrison Avenue
In total, 78 sidewalk corners in Townsend will be updated with ramps and 13 sidewalks will be improved to make Townsend more accessible.
Impacts to the Public
Construction is scheduled to begin in late August/early September and last for 35 days, with dates subject to change due to weather. A streamlined construction process is being used to upgrade curb ramps and it is designed to reduce the time required to finish these improvements. That means less noise and disruption for neighbors and travelers around the work zone.
During construction for the new sidewalk improvements, the public should expect minor mild noise disturbances, minor pedestrian detours, and intermittent loss of parking.
How Will Townsend ADA Improve Accessibility?
A sidewalk curb with no ramp is difficult to navigate for people with disabilities, people who use walkers or canes and other assistive devices like crutches, as well as people pushing strollers and delivery dollies. Sidewalk corners that currently have sloped curb ramps will be updated to meet new ADA standards.
New curbs will have gentler slopes to ease a wheeled device down, and these new curbs feature landing areas at the top where pedestrians can prepare to turn and access the crosswalk. The ramps are designed to be long enough to provide a gentle slope, but not so long that a user becomes fatigued pushing up the ramp. For users with a stroller or using a walker or wheelchair, these landing areas are crucial to making a safe turn into the ramp leading to the crosswalk.
Additionally, tools to help users with vision impairments will be installed at all new curb ramps. These tools are called "detectable warnings." Detectable warnings are the colored and textured surfaces found in the areas where a curb ramp connects with the street. Detectable warnings provide a sensory warning to users with vision impairments, alerting them that they are entering a roadway where vehicle traffic is present. Finally, the design is also intended to limit water pooling in the area where the curb ramp transitions into roadway, keeping everyone's shoes dry when possible.
Cost and Funding
Updates to curb ramps in Townsend as part of the Butte District ADA Upgrades are funded using a combination of federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) funds and state fuel tax dollars. The total project cost for the Butte District ADA Upgrades occurring in three communities, including Townsend is $3.1 million.