Knoxville improves wheelchair accessibility

Investigations

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Back in August, a disabled Knoxville man made a plea that crosswalk controls for people in wheelchairs be easier to access.

Well, the city listened.

Today, newer pedestals are being installed at area intersections.

WATE 6 On Your Side’s Don Dare went back to West Town Mall to see how these lowered signals make a difference.

No longer will these in wheelchairs get stuck in the mud or have to reach so far.

At many intersections throughout Knoxville, there are crosswalk controls where you have to push a button allowing you to cross the road.

In August, outside of West Town Mall, Jordan Segura showed us how sometimes he cannot reach the control button from his wheelchair, and he lives near the mall.

WATE 6 On Your Side contacted Knoxville’s signal maintenance department. Segura’s plea was heard and we returned with him the other day.

With the new pedestal at West Town South getting lowered, Segura can now reach the button.

Within the last seven days, new pedestals have installed at West Town Mall entrances and the signal buttons lowered for people like Jordan and others.

“I don’t have to stretch up high, I can just reach and push. And it’s done. It’s just literally pushing a button which is what it should be, simple,” says Segura.

In August, Segura showed us what a struggle it was for him just to reach the crosswalk button on Morrell Road at West Town. Across the road is the Centre at Deane Hill where he shops. Two months ago, that crosswalk button was surrounded by soft dirt, often making Segura’s wheelchair get stuck.

“We at the city try to make our citizens happy, but more than anything else as safe as possible,” says Ernie Pierce, Signal Maintenance Supervisor.

Ernie Pierce is the Signal Maintenance Supervisor for the city of Knoxville. We contacted him in August and explained the tough time Segura was having in accessing the buttons.

“In some cases in the past there really wasn’t any consideration for the pedestrian who was out there. The push button has to be up close enough to the sidewalk for someone in a wheelchair with limited visibility can actually touch, the button without having to venture off the sidewalk,” he says.

The city has installed lower crosswalk pedestals at the busy Noelton Road and Kingston Pike intersection. Also, they’re at Morrell Road and Gleason near West Town Mall.

“They’ve been a big improvement, a big benefit to so many and myself,” says Segura, who’s pleased that his voice was heard. “I’m very grateful and thankful to the city for the changes they’ve made, how they kept to their timeline.”

Pierce says in the future, when sidewalk improvement plans are scheduled, and crosswalk controls are needed, those 42-inch pedestals will be installed, plus, no longer will the controls be set up high on a pole, often out of reach, for those who need to access it.

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