Of the city’s 1,482 handicap ramps at street corners, 1,173 do not meet federal standards.

Tuesday night, the Rolla City Council took a step toward changing that by approving an ordinance authorizing Mayor Bill Jenks to enter into a grant agreement with the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission.

“We estimate this proposed project will replace approximately 225 ramps or about one-fifth of the ramps out of compliance,” Public Works Director Steve Hargis said. “The project would be constructed by contract out of next year’s fiscal budget.”

Hargis explained that for several years, the city has built many miles of sidewalks, much of the work done with grant money from the Missouri Department of Transportation.

“In 2011, handicap standards were adopted for use on facilities in the public right of way, Up until the new standards were adopted, there was no clear guideline,” Hargis said.

What the federal requirements are now is the use of “truncated domes.” This is a mat, either plastic or metal, that is installed along the border of the sidewalk and the street.

The small “domes” on the mat can be walked over or rolled over with a wheelchair. Their value is to warn pedestrians who are blind or visually impaired that they are near traffic.

“We applied and have received an offer for federal enhancement funs to assist us in working toward compliance with the new standard,” Hargis said.

The federal grant obtained through the state highway agency totals $487,015 with the city’s match being $128,923.

The grant will cover the construction costs for making handicapped access ramps compliant with federal standards. “Engineering and inspection will be done by city of Rolla staff,” Hargis said.