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Lack of handicap accessibility in Coweta

Posted at 7:33 PM, Sep 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-28 07:18:48-04

COWETA, Okla. -- Residents are questioning accessibility for those with disabilities in the city of Coweta.

Montega Albert broke her leg over the summer, and knows what it's like to be bound to a wheelchair. 

"Not just knowing 'hey people need access', but actually getting to live that yourself is very eye opening," said Albert.

After staying in her house for weeks, she decided to go to the Coweta fall festival, but had to be pushed around in a wheelchair by her husband. She says it wasn't a smooth experience.

"You have to walk almost a block and a half, two blocks, to find access to get on the sidewalk," said Albert.

Albert not only had problems getting on the sidewalk, but also had trouble exploring the local stores along Broadway Avenue.

"The doorways to the store entries are so high, that a person by themselves there’s no way they could get in there," said Albert.

She wrote a letter to the City Manager who responded within days.

"The challenge we have is that there are portions of the sidewalks that run down this piece of infrastructure that are 16 inches or more, higher than what the roadbed is," said Roger Kolman, Coweta City Manager.

There's handicap parking and sidewalk ramps at the end of certain blocks, but the Kolman says to put additional ramps in the middle of the sidewalk comes at a steep price.

"You have to have a really good main street program going where people are dedicated to, and the proper private side partners that could fund that kind of stuff," said Kolman.

Kolman says the city is currently working on designs for improvements to the accessibility ramps at Chestnut and Pecan on Broadway. That project is part of a larger pavement overlay project with ODOT for that length of Highway 72, also referred to as Broadway Avenue.

Albert is hoping to help make change, knowing her injury will recover, but others have to constantly deal with these conditions.

"I'm not upset with the city of Coweta, I’m not upset about that, I'm positive, I think that is going to be a positive change for the better," said Albert.

Kolman says a partial fix he's going to have his staff look into is installing additional handrails in areas along Broadway, where the sidewalk is more than one step higher than the roadway.

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