Disabled advocates: Damaged crosswalk mats pose hazards

Published: Mar. 3, 2014 at 9:09 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Blind pedestrian Richard Koja says ADA mats are supposed to help the disabled cross busy highways.

But the 54-year-old Pearl City resident says many of them in disrepair, creating hazards.

"The blind depend on being able to feel them if it just feels like a plaque they won't know it's a handicapped mat," he said.

ADA mats are those bright, bumpy warning surfaces on sidewalks and curbs that are used to alert visually impaired pedestrians that they are approaching a street, stairway or curb cut.

The problem is that several mats along the state highways on Oahu are under such disrepair that they pose hazards not just for the handicapped but also for able-bodied pedestrians.

"There's one on Kamehameha Highway at Meheula (in Mililani) that is in disrepair ... and on the other side of the street people are entering into the crosswalk there's another one with the flaps broken," Cox said.

"There's another one on Kanuku Street on Kamehameha Highway in the Pearl City area, on the slope it's buckled."

The state Department of Transportation handles the upkeep of properties along state highways. But Cox says the state has placed a low priority on the work on these ADA mats.

"The agency is not getting aggressive enough ... in adequately addressing, installing, monitoring and maintaining these ADA pads," he said.

A DOT spokeswoman said the department plans to follow up on the complaints.

But some of the damaged mats like along the rail transit route in Pearl City, which is now under city jurisdiction.

And some disabled advocates worry that the new layer of bureaucracy will add even more delays to the necessary fixes.

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