The Americans With Disability Act has been the law of the land for more than a decade, but only now the city of Washington and Daviess County have approved plans to come into compliance with it.
Both the Washington City Council and the Daviess County Commissioners approved their respective transition plans at their last meetings, but they have been more than two years in the making.
"This is a federal mandate that was put into place several years ago to make buildings more accessible," said chairman of the county's ADA committee Paul Goss.
"This is really something that should have been done long ago, but no one was doing it," said ADA committee member Phil Cornelius.
The change came when cities and counties were told by the Indiana Department of Transportation that if they hoped to continue getting federal road grants that they would have to put an ADA transition plan into place. "When we fill out an application form now for any kind of highway grant, one of the first questions on the form is; do you have an ADA plan?" said Cornelius. "They got out the stick on us."
That stick has led to piles of plans, proposals and expected projects to make the city and county more accessible to the public. The Daviess County transition plan fills one large three-ring binder and cost $18,900 to assemble. It mostly deals with the county's buildings.
"The courthouse, the county highway building, the airport, the extension office and health department are all listed and the plan has specific items to deal with the needs in those buildings," said Goss.
The city's plan is three times as large and cost $47,000 because it also has a large inventory of sidewalks. "Ours is much more extensive," said Washington Mayor Joe Wellman. "We have every sidewalk photographed, inventoried and prioritized. It not only includes the sidewalks it also recognizes access ramps at crosswalks."