Settlement: Seattle to build thousands of sidewalk curb ramps over next 18 years

Seattle will fix or install 22,500 curb ramps over the next 18 years to settle a federal class action lawsuit brought by three men with disabilities, according to a preliminary agreement. That’s expected to cost nearly $300 million.

The city of Seattle agreed to build thousands of sidewalk curb ramps over the next 18 years, costing hundreds of millions of dollars, as part of a preliminary agreement to settle a federal class action lawsuit.

The settlement, filed with U.S. District Court Monday evening, requires the city to build or fix 1,250 curb ramps each year for the next 18 years. That’s 22,500 curb ramps total.

The costs to the city of installing curb ramps can vary widely. A city-commissioned study from 2016 estimated the cost of each curb ramp at nearly $13,100. That number yields a total cost to the city of more than $294 million over the next 18 years.

Indeed, the settlement, which still must be approved by U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein, says “nearly $300 million will be spent” by the city and other agencies and entities on curb ramps.

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But when the city bids out construction projects, contractors frequently quote prices far less than $13,100 per ramp. Two recent acceptedbids quote prices for ramps ranging between $2,100 and $3,250 each, although those numbers don’t include removal of old sidewalk materials.

Every curb ramp built in the city, no matter who builds it, will count toward the city’s commitment.

Regardless of the total price tag, the agreement represents a significant increase in the city’s building of ramps. Linda Dardarian, an attorney for the plaintiffs, estimated that ramps will now be built three times faster than the city’s historic pace.

Three men with disabilities sued Seattle in 2015, alleging the city was violating the Americans with Disabilities Act because many sidewalks lack curb ramps — needed to make…

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