Pedestrians hospitalized after tripping over new city ramps

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR) - A pregnant woman fell, and another broke her nose, after tripping over new access ramps on downtown St. Louis street corners.

The city is currently redoing all of the handicapped access ramps along Broadway.  New federal regulations require curbs on both sides of each ramp, to help guide the blind.  But through the course of the construction, people have been tripping over them, and say they’re a safety hazard.

Kelly Mitchell, who works at the Bank of America Tower on Broadway, never thought a lunch break would land her in the hospital.  “I had walked across, and we were turning to go across Broadway, tripped over the lip, stumbled, then tripped off the sidewalk, and so I fell into the street,” she explains.

The fall knocked the wind out of Mitchell, who happens to be six months pregnant.  She says, “I was definitely fearful that I fell hard enough that I could’ve injured the baby somehow. But luckily I didn’t.”

She isn’t the only one who’s tripped over these curbs.  “If you’re out here and around, you’ll hear a ton of stories,” says Mitchell, “People are saying left and right that they’ve seen people falling and tripping.”

One of Mitchell’s coworkers fell so hard she had to be rushed to the hospital.  Another coworker, Jennifer Kassoff, witnessed the whole incident: “She fell right on her face. She had contusions on her face and nose, and broke the tip of her nose. They had to call an ambulance to make sure she didn’t have a concussion…It’s just very, very poorly designed.”

But St. Louis Board of Public Service President Richard Bradley says the ramp’s design is a federal mandate. "We built them to the exact standard that’s there,” he says.

Now that the city is aware of the complaints, safety improvements are already in progress.  Throughout the course of the day, workers have leveled the ramps, painted yellow stripes on curbs, and added caution cones, which will ultimately be replaced by planters.

“We’re going to go out of our way and make sure that we go down there and paint, put planters, and things like that in places so people don’t trip and fall,” Bradley explains.

The federally funded project should be completed later this summer.

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