KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In the past year, hundreds of Google Fiber boxes have sprouted up in the metro. At least one of them has neighbors concerned, after it’s made one busy sidewalk nearly impassable.
Within the past two months, Google installed a new fiber box at the intersection of 39th and Roanoke — right in the middle of the sidewalk.
Sheila Styron works with an advocacy group called The Whole Person, which supports independent living by the disabled.
“I was shocked and appalled,” Stryon said. “Google should really know better.”
Styron pointed out that federal laws, as mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act, require three feet of clearance, allowing enough space for a wheelchair.
We measured 13 inches of space from the edge of the grass to the break in the sidewalk beside Google’s box.
“It’s been on the books for a long time that public rights have to be accessible, and we can’t create barriers for people with access issues,” Styron said.
Eric Rogers lives in the Volker neighborhood, and he also directs Bike Walk KC, a watchdog group that helps protect public streets and sidewalks.
“This box doesn’t leave enough sidewalk space for someone to easily walk by,” Rogers said. “Definitely not enough space for someone in a wheelchair to get by.”
Rick Usher from the city manager’s office told FOX 4 News that as many as six Google Fiber boxes were installed incorrectly.
Google Spokesperson Jenna Wandress told FOX 4 News the box was incorrectly placed by the contractor Google used to do the work in the first place. Sure enough, while we were on scene, a manager with that contractor — Ervin Cable Construction — showed up to take measurements and begin to make the change.
“I think it’s a situation of needing stronger incentives to be required to make sure that we live in a more barrier-free world and that our public rights are more accessible,” Styron said.
And thereby, keeping the sidewalks free to all.
Usher told FOX 4 News it should take three-to-four days to assess the work required at each site.