The Anatomy of a Curb Ramp

Completed curb ramps at E Republican and 16th Ave E

Completed curb ramps at E Republican and 16th Ave E

Curb ramps make our city more accessible for everyone, & they’re a high priority for our Maintenance Operations Division (MOD) Concrete Crews.

 

Pursuant to a Consent Decree, the City of Seattle builds at least 1250 curb ramps per year, and our MOD Concrete Crews complete a significant portion of that required total. Their goal for this year was to complete 300 ramps, and as of Friday, September 13, they’d exceeded their goal! They’ve installed 328 ramps and completed 6 retrofits , for a total of 334 ramps. They’ve done all this with a team of 57 regular concrete crew members and 10 temporary staff (all of them do many other kinds of concrete work, too). They also are supported by our asphalt crews, who assist with drivers and operators when needed.

 

Here’s a step-by-step guide for you.

 

Concrete crew member Alex Savini took some great photos documenting two curb ramp projects recently, and we’d like to share them with you, along with a step-by-step explanation of how curb ramps are built. These photos are from two sites: E Valley and 24th Ave E, and E Republican and 16th Ave E.

 

Step 1: demolishing the old sidewalk at E Valley St and 24th Ave E

Step 1: demolishing the old sidewalk at E Valley St and 24th Ave E

 

Building a curb ramp is a complicated & multi-stage process.

 

After demolishing the old sidewalk, curb, and connecting structures, we clear and prep the area for the new curb ramp. Our crews form up the ramp, wings, sidewalk, and landing pad.

 

Forming up a new curb ramp

Forming up a new curb ramp

 

Once the forms are in place, we level and complete a rock base, which is then compacted. After this is finished, we’re ready for a forms inspection.

 

I Esponoza works on compacting the rock base at E Valley and 24th Ave E

I Esponoza works on compacting the rock base at E Valley and 24th Ave E

 

Our team tackles challenges as they arise. Many of these curb ramps present design complexities & execution challenges.

 

In the case of this curb ramp at E Valley St and 24th Ave E, the ramp and sidewalk were adjacent to private property steps and other structures. When our projects connect to private property, we must obtain “right of access” to pour the ramp. In this situation, the ramp landing was at base of the homeowner’s steps.

 

Darryl Shears, I Espinoza, Savang Suth, and Alex Savini work on finishing the first pour

Darryl Shears, I Espinoza, Savang Suth, and Alex Savini work on finishing the first pour

 

The process by which concrete is formed & poured varies by project.

 

In these photos, the ramp, wings and gutter were all poured at once. After that, the sidewalks around the ramp are completed. While the concrete is wet, team members score it.

 

Robert Pasquariello, Troy Perry, and I Espinoza score the sidewalk and landing pad

Robert Pasquariello, Troy Perry, and I Espinoza score the sidewalk and landing pad

 

And now for the final steps!

 

After all the pours are complete, the concrete must cure completely over a 24-hour period before it can be walked on.

 

Bricks are placed on the warning tactile to hold it in place while the concrete cures

Bricks are placed on the warning tactile to hold it in place while the concrete cures

 

Finally, we replace the adjoining street surface (which may be cobblestone, asphalt, or concrete) so that the street meets the edge of the gutter smoothly.

 

The finished product at E Valley and 24th Ave E

The finished product at E Valley and 24th Ave E

 

We’re so proud of their great work! Our concrete crews are a committed team, and will continue on their mission to go above and beyond in building curb ramps throughout the fall.

 

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