Dallas needs $54 million to install sidewalk ramps that meet ADA requirements

The city of Dallas is in bad shape when it comes to crosswalks and sidewalk ramps.

The city manager says there's not enough money to solve the problem.

City staff revealed on Monday that the city would need $54 million to install all of the ramps needed to comply with the federal ADA law on the books for more than 30 years. 

Dallas City Councilman Chad West is frustrated that city management did not agree with making pedestrians a priority in response to a recent audit. 

"From what I heard is we will put pedestrians in with everyone else, cars, trains bicycles, 18-wheelers. That is not what auditor or Federal Highway Safety recommends," he said. "They recommend pedestrians are prioritized."

West says the current approach continues to put walkers at risk in a city that historically has struggled to improve its walkability.

Dallas has the fifth-highest pedestrian fatality rate out of the 25 largest U.S. cities. 

"If it is between a car and pedestrian, who will win? So we should always prioritize pedestrians, and everyone else can get behind them, in my opinion," West said.

Outgoing Dallas CFO Elizabeth Reich tried to explain that it comes down to dollars. 

"In the past, we've agreed with anything. It's a great idea. But it is a mistake to agree when we don't have the resources, technology, staffing to implement it," she said. "Because then, we are held accountable for implementing it."

The audit found a backlog of 1,500 crosswalks in need of new pavement markings. When the markings wear out, they lose reflectivity and can become slippery. 

West said he does not buy the excuse that the city doesn't have the money to do better. 

"We’ve got enough resources to stripe lanes for cars," he said. "I can't drive on a single street without double lanes, dotted lines, stop signs. But we can't stripe crosswalks and make ADA ramps?"

It may now be up to council members to look for ways to fund pedestrian safety in the upcoming budget negotiations.