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Clearing up confusion over Durango’s ADA spaces

The Americans with Disabilities Act mandates at least one accessible parking space for every 25 spaces. In the Walmart parking lot, a row of handicapped spaces is near the grocery entrance.

Dear Action Line: Our neighbors have a handicapped placard, as one is mobility challenged. The wife was advised she could park in any metered spot without charge, and in any handicapped space in downtown Durango lots (regardless if she was shopping there). She has been chastised by a local business when she has parked in their lot on East Second Avenue, after being unable to find another metered or handicapped space. She advised the business owner that she was allowed to park there, and eventually she was allowed to, but now she is uncertain based on the owner’s initial response. The city of Durango’s website indicates she does have the right to park in any handicapped space within the city, plus any metered space. Can you confirm this? – Concerned Neighbor

Dear Concerned: Well, there are federal rules, there are state rules, and then there are just rules of morality and proper conduct as a good neighbor and human being.

Is it good form to chastise someone with the proper tag who is parking in your business’ handicapped spot? Action Line thinks not, and apparently it’s also not legal to kick them out. And is it good form to take that spot to display your merchandise, which this same local business owner was said to be doing? Same answers apply: not legal, and not exactly good for karma points.

And if you’re an able-bodied person parking in a handicapped spot, may a ghastly pox (disease, horrible asps, unrelenting bodily itch, etc.) have at you.

Wade Moore, the city of Durango’s parking operations manager, provided this answer:

“As I understand it, unless (the space) is on private property not available to the public and has a restriction posted, such as ‘club Members Only,’ all ADA spaces are available to any qualifying user, whether shopping at that location or not.”

Action Line will quickly interject that ADA, or The Americans with Disabilities Act, became a federal law way back in 1990. So it’s hard to claim ignorance anymore.

Moore confirmed that vehicles with properly displayed ADA permits or plates may use any metered space or city lot space, marked as disabled parking or not.

“We do not restrict the metered spaces to the time on the meter for properly displayed ADA permits,” he said. “We do ask that, whenever possible, they avoid using 30-minute spaces which are specifically placed for short-term usage to allow the best possible turnover.”

Moore noted that the person to whom the pass was issued must be present when the vehicle is parked. This applies to all public ADA spaces and to the free use of Durango’s metered and lot spaces. It’s a state rule, he said. Moore added that he consulted with the Durango Police Department for confirmation.

There are many sources of information that discuss ADA spaces, and who can use them. For state rules, consult Colorado Revised Statute 42-4-1208. For more information about city of Durango parking, overall and for those with disabilities, visit www.durangoco.gov/869/Transportation and click on “parking” at the left.

As far as using a disabled spot to display merchandise, the city’s Community Development Department says its code states that “all required parking, including ADA, cannot be used for any other purpose other than parking vehicles. The exception is restaurants who can apply for a land use permit to allow parking spaces to be converted to patio spaces.”

“Concerned” said that finding a parking spot downtown is normally not a problem for her neighbors, but on holiday weekends and Snowdown week, it can be.

Dear Action Line: Is it River Road Bridge, Rivera Crossing Bridge or Dominguez Bridge near the Home Depot? – Ben Jammin

Dear Benji: Just a reminder that there still needs to be an “Action Line Bridge” or “Action Line Drive” somewhere. This one, however, was named for a Spanish explorer who got the honor just because he spent a few minutes here, and it was a tad bit before Action Line arrived.

It’s officially the Rivera Crossing Bridge. That’s because the La Plata County commissioners made it so in 2004.

County spokesman Ted Holteen explained that River Road, a city road, goes south from the Home Depot intersection at U.S. Highway 550/160. The bridge itself is a county entity. The other side of the bridge is technically County Road 213, or La Posta Road.

The county, with a big grant from the state, built that bridge in 2004 for $3.1 million, which somehow seems really cheap now. The new bridge was such a big deal that a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held that November.

Isn’t it hard to imagine that there once was no bridge there? When the Spanish explorer Juan Maria Antonio Rivera arrived on July 4, 1765, not only was there no bridge, but no Home Depot or Walmart! Having nothing else to do, he sat down by the river and named it “Rio de las Animas.”

That’s what happened. You can look it up.

Email questions and suggestions to actionline@durangoherald.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. Why was a Spaniard here? The Utes and other tribes might think differently, but Spain and then Mexico claimed the area that is now Durango for a couple centuries – until 1848. You can look that up too.

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