For the past two weeks you may have noticed a nice man wearing a bright yellow safety outfit strolling around Enterprise, carrying what looks like a bulky saucer on a folding metal tripod. Periodically he strides purposefully into the middle of the street, and after fiddling with something in the pavement sets up his tripod and the bulky saucer for about a minute, then folds it up and goes back to the sidewalk where he sets the contraption up again, usually on the curb, usually on a corner. Eventually, if you follow his progress around the town, he returns to a white, ODOT truck where he makes some notes, downloads some data, and continues with his work.
The man is ODOT employee Grant Sharp. He’s not checking for aliens or collecting your cell phone conversation. He’s the advance guard for curb designers, and then, eventually the ODOT construction crews who will descend on Enterprise next summer and install or modify handicapped-accessible ramps on virtually every corner in the town along River Street and North Street.
At a Nov. 19 presentation at Enterprise City Hall, a team of ODOT engineers and planners presented the details of their plan to work here. ODOT chose the towns of Enterprise and Union as places for a trial of the handicapped access ramps that they must, according to a settlement in a lawsuit brought by Association of Oregon Centers for Independent Living, and eight individuals with mobility and visual impairments throughout the State of Oregon, install around the state to make all of Oregon’s sidewalks Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)compliant. The 2017 settlement committed ODOT to installing or revamping more than 10,000 ADA-compliant sidewalk curb ramps and about 1500 pedestrian crossing signs around Oregon. The statewide cost is estimated at $23 million.
The towns of Enterprise and Union were chosen as places for trials of design and installation to start the project, partly because they were small, partly because neither required installation of pedestrian warning crosswalks, and partly because both communities needed a variety of ramp styles. The fact that neither have big-city traffic loads would also help with planning traffic and pedestrian controls, noted Howard Postovit, ODOT Region 5 project leader.
The Enterprise project is estimated to cost between $1.5 to 1.7 million. It is slated to begin in May or early June, and be completed by the end of summer, Postovit said. It will require constructing or modifying 373 curb ramps on W. North St., River St., and N. First St., all of which are state highways. “We will not be doing all the ramps at the same time,” Postovit said. “We’ll plan to work on one intersection at a time, and make sure we allow for pedestrian and vehicle traffic to flow pretty regularly.” He added that there may be some places with lane restrictions and flaggers.
Plans are available from ODOT, and will also be available on the Chieftain’s website.