More accessible curb ramps, like these at 30th Street NE along 113th Avenue NE near Lake Stevens High School, are planned in Lake Stevens as part of a federally required document called an ADA transition plan. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

More accessible curb ramps, like these at 30th Street NE along 113th Avenue NE near Lake Stevens High School, are planned in Lake Stevens as part of a federally required document called an ADA transition plan. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

State won’t keep federal money from Lake Stevens for ADA issues

In September the state told the city it wasn’t complying with federal law. Upon review, the state is easing its stance.

LAKE STEVENS — Federal transportation funding is no longer in jeopardy for Lake Stevens after issues over sidewalk ramps and other accessibility concerns were raised by the state in September.

This fall, the Washington State Department of Transportation told city leaders it planned to withhold federal money because Lake Stevens was out of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In a letter dated Oct. 20, the city responded by highlighting accessible curb ramp work done to date and more planned next summer, as well as its intention to finish a required ADA transition plan by March 31 next year.

On Nov. 18, Earl Key, WSDOT director of the Office of Civil Rights and Equity, wrote in a letter to the city’s attorney that the state would not withhold federal funding from Lake Stevens.

A state Department of Transportation spokesman confirmed the letter but said department staff would not comment on it further as a legal matter.

WSDOT still is requiring the city meet deadlines for other issues identified in the previous letter. Those include completing the ADA transition plan by the end of March, fixing non-compliant sidewalk ramps and crossings by Sept. 15 and ongoing staff training on accommodations in construction zones.

“I thank you for addressing these issues… to ensure equal access for people with disabilities,” Key wrote.

The city has until Nov. 28 to agree to the state’s offer.

A resident had filed complaints over sidewalks and other accessibility issues in Lake Stevens starting in 2020. Many of those were validated when WSDOT staff visited the city in 2021, according to the state’s letter in September.

The city is developing its ADA transition plan, a document that guides government investments in accessibility for things like sidewalks and curb ramps. The plan is required for state and federal transportation money.

But Lake Stevens hired a consultant who reportedly used “inadequate technology” for the initial survey, Public Works Director Aaron Halverson wrote in his October response to the state.

This year, Lake Stevens installed or replaced 14 curb ramps near downtown, Lake Stevens High School and on Market Place. Another 24 are planned next year across the city.

Ben Watanabe: 425-339-3037; bwatanabe@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @benwatanabe.

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