MANCHESTER >> A portion of sidewalk along Depot Street by the newly constructed Marble Mill retail emporium will have to be torn up and replaced, since it doesn't conform to federal regulations established under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The issue is that three of the sidewalk panels put in place during the construction of the new retail outlet have a higher "cross slope" — the difference in elevation from one side to the other — than is allowed. Regulations call for a maximum difference of 2 percent, but the current portion of the sidewalk under scrutiny measures about 4.6 percent, according to a letter the town received from the Vermont Division of the Federal Highway Administration.
"The developer has voluntarily agreed to correct the cross slope issue, and we're gratefulthat they are doing that," said Town Manager John OKeefe. "we're also appreciative that they built a sidewalk in compliance with the town plan which is wider than the previous one."
The former sidewalk was five feet wide, and the town hopes to widen them — where possible — to six feet. Additionally, to accomdate the town plan's encouragement to move sidewalks a greater distance away from streets where proacticable, and leaving some green space between roadway and sidewalk — the new sidewalk angles in slightly, he said.
Longer term, the town hopes to address this kink in the sidewalk layout when the Depot Street overhaul project, which will reconfigure the busy commercial thoroughfare with new bicycle lanes and pedestrian amenities. O'Keefe said.
Some difference in elevation from one side of the sidewalk to the other is necessary to allow rain or storm water to drain away, he said.
The issue about the excessive degree of cross slope was brought to the attention of town officials by Manchester resident Skip King, who is an advocate for ADA and disabilities issues.
"Right now the way they have it, it's a liability for people with disabilities and for everyone else who uses it," he said. "It should never have been put in that way — but the bigger picture is to rectify it."
A transition plan is now in place, and the work is expected to occur later in November, O'Keefe said.