KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Dozens of curb cuts around the city will be reworked to provide greater accessibility to sidewalks by year’s end.
On Tuesday, City Council approved a $308,320 contract with Whaley Construction LLC to install or improve about 67 curb cuts for 2022.
Curb cuts are those parts of the sidewalk that dip down and level with the road, so people aren’t stepping off a ledge.
“Basically, what we’re trying to do with these curb cuts is to provide essentially a flat area through the curb for folks to be able to access the sidewalk,” Tom Clabo, the city’s chief civil engineer, said.
The work is required by federal law, in conjunction with or ahead of street paving.
“This contract goes out in front of the streets we’re going to be repaving in order to get the sidewalks in good repair and accessible before we pave the street,” Clabo said.
Street repaving is the main reason certain curb cuts get on the project list, but people reporting issues to the city helps as well.
“We receive a lot of requests, like through 311, that’s a very good place to put those in; but we’ll take those requests, and we pair that with streets we’re looking to resurface, and then we put together the program based on that information,” Clabo said.
According to a city spokesperson, a good example from this year’s list is South Chestnut Street in East Knoxville. City engineers are coordinating with the Knoxville Utilities Board on some planned utility upgrades, and city leaders are including South Chestnut Street in a future paving contract once the utility work is complete.
The curb cuts are being installed ahead of time so that once the road gets paved, everything will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The project includes either installing or improving the curb cuts. Some curb cuts are already there, but need to have the tactical warnings – those bumps you see before the sidewalk reaches the road.
“Those are specifically required for those who have a visual impairment,” Clabo said. “So if you’re using a cane, there’s certain patterns to the domes in those that they can pick up on so they know they’re getting ready to enter an area where there is active traffic.”
Clabo said the project is only for the curb cuts, not for the rest of the sidewalks. That’s part of a different project.
He said if residents believe their curb cuts, or sidewalks, should be added to a future project, they should report it to 311.