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ADA, go to hell! says Roosevelt Island


ADA, go to hell! That’s the message, loud and clear, from Roosevelt Island. Once the “City of Tomorrow,” it’s now the “Village of We Don’t Care” for the disabled and frail.

ADA, go to hell, says Roosevelt Island
A wheelchair forced into an active roadway by construction at 40 River Road, August 21, 2019.

Update 8-21-2019: After a walk through this morning, RIOC emailed, “They’ve been told to repair this ASAP to make it ADA accessible. We’re holding them accountable.

But as we so often find, reality is not what the authorities say it is. Here’s the scene at 3:00 p.m.

ADA, go to hell! We're busy.
Crown Castle obliterates sidewalk travel with no alternative posted. Just “SIDEWALK CLOSED,” stranding pedestrians, strollers and wheelchairs alike.

Street level construction at 40 River Road in Manhattan Park was a problem from the start.

Over two weeks ago, a contractor told me, “You can walk on the curb,” when I found the sidewalk blocked. I objected, and he offered to carry me.

I had three concerns:

  • Could he really hoist 185 pounds?
  • What were physically challenged residents and visitors supposed to do? Wait to be carried?
  • Was Manhattan Park permanently eliminating a stretch of sidewalk without any alternative?

And if this guy was that rude to me, 6′ 2″ and 185 pounds, what chance did a stroller mom or a guy in a wheelchair stand?

Hounded for 5 Days, RIOC Acts

Five days after we published a photo of a wheelchair navigating Main Street like a car because the sidewalk was gone…

Manhattan Park pushed everyone into the street. No problem, says RIOC.

…RIOC sent PSD acting chief Kevin Brown to check things out.

Brown ordered Manhattan Park to build an alternative, ADA compliant passage. They did, but it was half-assed.

They installed a cheap, plywood ramp that allows wheelchairs to get through, but they left a barely passable pothole, obstructing travel for some, in the middle of the detour.

Not a single sign directed anyone to a safe passage in any direction.

Still, RIOC green-lighted the work, even without a permit, and got out of the way.

Until we pointed out that the whole project may lack permits from the Department of Buildings. And did anyone ask the Department of Transportation for an okay to take-over the roadway?

Yesterday, RIOC reported finding an approved permit on the DOB website, although none are posted at the work location, as required. At the same time, RIOC signed a permit of its own, according to a spokesperson.

But what about ADA compliance?

“We’ve told them the ramp needs to be compliant but they have not responded yet. They will,” RIOC promised.

But the situation got worse, instead, and it’s RIOC’s contractor’s fault.

Crown Castle, a contractor hired by the State, began dumping slurry from a cable laying project into the alternative sidewalk. It flooded the plywood ramp and left a gray pool where it overran the nearest drain.

Crown Castle is already responsible for the ugly, monster streetlights abusing Good Shepherd Plaza and other locations.

ADA go to hell…! And then some.

This morning, the situation worsened. Wheelchairs are again forced into Main Street, and a hose set up to detour the slurry crosses the ramp, blocking safe passage in either direction.

A hose set up to detour water blocks the ramp and the sidewalk. What genius dreamed this up?

And a saw operator spews grit and water at anyone walking by.

No, he did not turn it off when I walked through.

Crown Castle crews, early today, built an obstacle course for pedestrians, wheelchairs and stroller moms.

There still aren’t any useful signs, and anyone finding a crosswalk in the direction of the arrow gets a reward.

ADA, go to hell

Bottom line: The area is even less ADA compliant than it was before.

Sometimes, you just throw up your hands, but credit where credit’s due, RIOC acted swiftly this morning. They appear ready to put some muscle into a commitment, but not until next week…

In the meantime, you are on your own. Be careful.

What’s it going to take to get this right?


  1. It is good that a little attention is paid to the road markings and diversions for pedestrians, in urban areas that indeed leads to dangerous situations.

  2. Instead of questioning the “wrong doing” of the company, who is only doing there job and working with the limited resources and space provided, why don’t you question Roosevelt’s island and why they do not have the proper resources to help these workers that are just doing their jobs to make your city better? That being said, if this bothers you that much, you can always go up or down a block, or to the other side of the street to avoid construction if it really troubles you so much.

    • You are badly misinformed. The contractor is required to meet all statutory requirements including ADA. Crying poor is not a viable exception, and if you read carefully, you’d see that the focus is actually on Roosevelt Island. It’s RIOC’s responsibility to make sure its contractors comply with applicable laws. The workers are employed by the contractor, not RIOC. You also seem to think this is about me when it’s about the higher than average local disabled population. If you were at all informed or had read carefully, you’d know that there is not sidewalk on the other side. This is the one and only sidewalk access.

  3. I walk this a few times a week and encountered these workers without a problem. One even picked up a bottle I dropped. I agree that it is very important to make sure job-sites are ADA..Did you feel this sidewalk was ADA before the work was being done? This sidewalk has been a mess for years. I think a wheelchair would have a hard time here all of the time. Even before this work started, I felt like I was off-roading with my stroller due to the cracks and bumps on this sidewalk. If it was in good condition an alternate route wouldn’t be necessary and it would be ADA. This is due to the cities neglect of the improvement of sidewalks.
    The sidewalks are in need of much repair in many areas of Roosevelt Island and this is one of them.
    We all have to work together in this case.Lets stop shutting down contractors that are trying to improve our city and come up with some solutions.

    • I agree up to a point, but your defense of the contractor, who is in clear violation of ADA, is puzzling. They took on the work voluntarily. No one coerced them They have no right to ignore the laws, and they are trying to “improve our city” at a profit. They should have considered all legal obligations in their offer to RIOC.
      And yes, the sidewalk was already pretty bad, and RIOC was doing nothing about it. That doesn’t excuse the contractor.

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