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BART plans to improve disability access to Lafayette station

Mark Katches/California WatchBART will add a curb connecting the south parking lot to its new $2 million access ramp at the Lafayette station.

Bay Area Rapid Transit officials said yesterday that they will put in a curbed ramp at the Lafayette BART station to enable wheelchairs to enter the new $2 million ramp leading from the south parking lot to the station.

After California Watch reported that the new ramp failed to connect to the south parking lot – limiting access – BART spokesman James Allison said a change will be made.

“A curb will now be cut out as part of the project within six months,” Allison said.

When combined, the north and south parking lots at the Lafayette station feature 1,528 total parking spaces and 27 handicapped parking spots. The Americans with Disabilities Act calls for a standard ratio of one handicapped space for every 25 parking stalls. But the formula changes when lots exceed 1,000 spaces. Under ADA rules, BART has two more handicapped spaces in the Lafayette parking lot than needed to comply with federal guidelines.

“We believe we exceed compliance with ADA parking because we have a total of 27 spaces,” Allison said. “It’s our understanding ADA requirements cover total parking for an entire facility, not for each lot in a facility with multiple lots.”

Allison also said the agency had not received any complaints about the new ramp, which opened in April.

The south lot has 117 parking spaces, and none are designated as handicapped spaces. Allison said there are no plans to add handicapped parking in the south lot.

But the fact that BART spent $2 million on a zigzag ramp leading from the station to the sidewalk without any way for a wheelchair to access it from the parking lot prompted questions from BART riders and advocates for people with disabilities.

The lack of a curb cutout or lip also makes it more difficult for travelers to wheel luggage up the curb and limits access for bicycles heading toward Happy Valley Road. The ramp was built with federal and local funds to connect the station to a trail leading to the Lafayette City Center east of the ramp.

BART officials had said they avoided touching the parking lot because of concerns that the lot’s owner would raise objections. The land underneath the lot is owned by the East Bay Municipal Utility District. But officials at the water agency said they would not oppose any changes.

The ramp’s project manager, Jeff Garcia, said last week that fixing the situation to enable access to the lot would be simple. “It’s not a bad idea,” Garcia said at the time.

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