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Disabilities Ramp Under Construction at Building 7

By Veena Ramaswamy

STAFF REPORTER

Plans for construction of a disabilities ramp outside of 77 Massachusetts Avenue have been finalized, and construction of the ramp is under way. The ramp, which is expected to cost about $700,000, is slated to be completed by the end of the year.

Coordinated by the MIT Department of Facilities, the ramp, referred to as the Americans with Disabilities Act ramp, will provide access to Building 7 through the basement corridor, close to the Building 7 elevator.

The ramp is part of a series of renovations geared at making MIT more accessible to people with disabilities, said John B. Hawes, a senior project manager in MIT’s facilities department. The total cost of these renovations is nearly $10 million.

Entrance comes after long wait

Hawes said that the Institute has always been looking for a better entrance to Building 7 for disabled people.

“It’s always been an assumption that we need something to allow people to come in directly,” said Hawes. “We’re doing it now simply because it took a while to get the funding together and the construction plan.”

The ramp’s function, in addition to making the building more accessible to persons with disabilities, will also make it easier to transport large items and carts through the Building 7 entrance.

“It’s such an important building with so much coming in and out of it that I definitely think its construction is worthwhile,” said Punita Bhansali ’04.

ADA account pays for ramp

The funding for the $700,000 ramp will come from the MIT ADA account.

“The ADA account was set up in 1992 to address problems of accessibility, in response to ADA laws passed in 1990,” Hawes said.

At this time, Hawes said, the Institute set up a “tax” on all renovation projects, usually about 20 percent. The collected money was used to pay for making buildings more accessible, such as through new entrances, ramps, and elevators.

“We’ve spent close to $10 million over the last seven to eight years for ADA improvements,” Hawes said.

Ronald J. Catella, senior project manager for MIT design and construction, emphasized the fact that the money for all ADA projects does not come from the Institute.

“All of the money in the ADA fund is supported by a percentage of the construction projects, and the Mass. Ave. ramp is being funded entirely with ADA money,” he said.

Because the main objectives of the ADA account have been achieved, the funding has recently decreased. There remains, however, about $400,000 in the account for further projects.

Plants to be replaced

In order to construct the ramp, trees and shrubs were removed from the building’s entrance.

“We will ... re-plant many of the trees and shrubs that were removed for the construction. It should be an improvement when it’s all done,” Hawes said.

The ADA was passed in 1990, and requires all public facilities to be made accessible to people with disabilities.