California settles major disability access lawsuit

Chris Rizo Dec. 28, 2009, 2:19am

Arnold Schwarzenegger (R)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-California has agreed to spend $1.1 billion over the next 30 years to repair and improve sidewalks, crosswalks and park-and-ride facilities so they are handicap accessible.

Under a class-action settlement filed in Oakland, the state Department of Transportation, known as Caltrans, will make improvements to roughly 2,500 miles of state-owned sidewalks, crosswalks and 300 park-and-ride facilities.

The proposed settlement also requires Caltrans to put in curb ramps at intersections whenever it resurfaces highways that run through city streets

Under the draft agreement, the state will spend $25 million per year for the first five years, $35 million per year for the next decade, $40 million per year for the 10 years after that, and $45 million per year for the final five years.

"This settlement is a win-win," Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a Caltrans statement. "It would be inexcusable to continue to delay these modifications. Instead of debating this through the legal process for the next decade, costing millions of taxpayer dollars, we are taking action to get this work completed."

The settlement still must be reviewed by a federal judge and the U.S. Department of Justice. A hearing is expected in April.

The original lawsuit was filed in 2006 by Californians for Disability Rights Inc., the California Council for the Blind on behalf of two disabled Californians. They alleged that Caltrans had violated the federal Americans with Disabilities Act by not improving sidewalks.

"Caltrans is committed to addressing the mobility needs of all Californians and takes seriously its responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act," Caltrans Director Randy Iwasaki said in a statement.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at

More News