Efforts are being made around Tech to make our facilities compliant with federal regulations specified in the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, some of these efforts have been met with complications. For example, a new wheelchair ramp was built over the summer and scheduled to be open this semester at Prescott Hall. While the ramp is finished, it is still closed at both ends because two large cooling pipes spanning the ramp are difficult to walk over, let alone get a wheelchair across. This unusual blunder leaves many students and faculty wondering what happened.
“When an engineer was working on the project, the plans showed the pipes being 12-15 ft north of the project site,” Glenn Binkley, Business and Financial Services assistant director, said. “When excavation began, voila!”
Prescott was built in 1969, and the original blueprints were the only resource planners had to refer to for this project.
“It’s not uncommon to find discrepancies between an architect or engineer’s plan and what a contractor actually does,” Binkley said.
The repairs are scheduled to be made over the coming holiday break and should be completed by January. There are other ramps that allow wheelchair access into the building in the meantime.
“During December, when we have a scheduled chill water outage, we will close University Drive and tap into those chill water lines and run new lines to the north side of Prescott,” Binkley said. “This will also give us an opportunity to install new cutoff valves, so we can isolate a specific building or area if we have a problem in the future. We have the valves now, but they are so outdated that we don’t know how reliable they are.”
Prescott Hall has struggled with wheelchair ramp problems more than once. The original wheelchair ramp on the east side of the building has served as a runway for rain water straight into the ground floor for years.
This summer, that problem was finally addressed by installing drainage grates in the parking lot around the building and on the ramp itself.
Renovations were also made to bring the ramp up to federal specifications. The ADA requires that a wheelchair ramp rise only one foot for every 12 feet of length and that for every 30 feet of length, there must be a level rest area.
Funding for the renovation projects is provided by the state. Construction is completed as funding is received and while students are gone for semester breaks.