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City plans show handicap accessible ramps long overdue

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BATON ROUGE - An intersection people have been complaining about should have been fixed years ago. It deals with making sidewalks handicap accessible along North Street in Baton Rouge.

The plans are from May 29, 2002 and show a number of intersections that were intended to be altered but weren't for one reason or another.

Chief Design and Construction Engineer for the City of Baton Rouge Tom Stevens says the plans designed were about 95 percent complete but never made it to the street.

"Those plans were put on the shelf because of funding," said Stevens.

Since 2002, Stevens says some handicap accessible ramps were completed by the Department of Public Works in-house maintenance forces, others have been completed in conjunction with the downtown signal projects as they came up. The intersection at North Street and N. 7th Street has not.

At the northwest corner of the intersection are the Catholic Presbyterian Apartments where about half of the residents use mobility assistance.

Lee Landry is one of those residents and says she first asked the city for help with the intersection eight years ago.

"I kept waiting for something to happen," Landry told 2 On Your Side last month.

Landry uses a motorized wheelchair to get around. An eight inch curb stands in her way of crossing the street, which means sometimes she's forced to travel in the street along with the traffic. She said Friday, she's shocked to hear the city has been sitting on sidewalk improvement plans for 15 years.

"How can they ignore it for 15 years? That is really outrageous," she said.

Stevens spent some time with Landry recently and knows how frightening her route to the grocery store can be.

"There's no doubt that something needs to be done and we intend to look for ways to get it done," he said.

The city says the project is going to take some time and money but the intersection will soon include handicap ramps.

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