- Associated Press - Thursday, March 24, 2016

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) - The city of Waterloo has reached a settlement with federal officials over its failure to maintain accessible bus benches.

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (http://bit.ly/1VJA215 ) reports that City Council members voted unanimously Monday to approve an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice based on complaints that many of the city’s 130 public bus benches have failed to meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

The City Council also approved a $75,000 contract with engineering consultant AECOM of Waterloo to design improvements necessary to make the stops accessible to those in wheelchairs or with other mobility challenges.

Building official Craig Clark said the city has been working to resolve the issues after local riders filed a complaint with the Justice Department three years ago.

“The (original) complaint was filed based on snow removal not being done at bus stops,” Clark said. “That’s fine. But removing snow from grass still does not make the stops ADA compliant.”

The settlement requires the city to create a plan to address the situation within six months. The city would then make the plan compliant with the act following federal approval.

“If we don’t perform the work there could be litigation later,” Clark said.

The city will likely remove more than half of the 130 benches, which are provided by a private company that pays an annually licensing fee and gets revenue from bench advertising sales. Clark said the contract with AECOM covers 27 of the heaviest used bus stops.

“Right now we think that’s what we can afford,” Clark said. He noted that more stops could be improved in the future.

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Information from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, http://www.wcfcourier.com

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