Last month, several homeowners on Arborview watched in amazement as heavy equipment pulled up in front of their houses and workers started jackhammering the sidewalk slabs that they had installed just two years ago during the city’s sidewalk repair program.

The re-demolition was collateral damage: the city is lowering the grade of corner ramps to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living sued over the ramps in 2003, and a 2008 settlement required the city to replace approximately 2,600 ramps over the next twelve years–the number built between 1992 and 2004 that aren’t compliant with ADA standards. (This doesn’t include the downtown corners–the DDA already replaced those.)

Brad Kluczynski, from the city’s public operations department, says it costs about $3,000 to redo a corner ramp, less if the work can be incorporated into street repairs or other sidewalk construction. Jim McInnis from Doan Construction, which has the contract, says his company can do about 350 ramps in a season. The 1992 act specifies a grade of no more than 8 percent, a 2 percent grade on the street-side “landing pad,” and “truncated domes”–those orange insets with raised dots. But Kluczynski says compliance isn’t a cut-and-dried thing. For instance, “there was a disagreement between the blind group and the wheelchair group as to how the domes should be. The wheelchairs wanted them spaced farther apart so they could go down the middle of them, and the blind folks wanted them oriented so they could tell which direction they were traveling.” Kluczynski says the result is a compromise. But it sure looks like the blind won out–the bumps are so close together that even the narrowest wheel is likely to hit them.