Campus, News

CSULB campus to see slew of accessibility upgrades

For students attending Cal State Long Beach, a campus that sits on a hill, making the trek to and from classes can be a hassle for anyone. Now, imagine trying to make that venture on crutches or a wheelchair.

Some areas of the campus have not met the requirements for the Americans with Disabilities Act, serving as a challenge to those who may struggle with disabilities.

To remedy this, Design and Construction Services aims to focus its campus-wide accessibility upgrade to correct inclines for ramps and the amount of handrails around campus.

Beach Drive will also be getting new detectable warning strips, side flares and truncated domes. Accessible signage will be added to the University Bookstore and the Language Arts building.

Physical Planning and Facilities Management is making way for these improvements in response to changes made in 2016 to the California Building Standards Code, according to blueprints from Design and Construction.

The funds for the $5 million project came from a one-time allocation from President Jane Close Conoley, who felt it should be used toward accessibility upgrades.

According to Disabled Student Services, there are roughly 1,900 disabled students on campus.

These changes will take place in three separate stages and impact 12 areas around campus: restructuring the ramps, rails and sidewalks, moving around disability parking places and creating more gender neutral bathrooms, in that order.

According to Mark Zakhour, director of Design and Construction Services, all of the upgrades are expected to be finished by July at the latest.

“The overall goal of this project is to improve access for the greatest number of people as possible,” Zakhour said. “There’s an ultimate path of travel for disabled students to take so we don’t want to do all the projects at once.”

Sophomore history major Ryan Patrick Morose uses an electric scooter to get around campus after a knee surgery back in June. He said that he doesn’t have issues with the current physical layout of the school.

“I have the routes that I use and it works,” he said.

Rachel Mahgerefteh, coordinator of supportive services at Disabled Student Services, also mentioned that the construction on campus has posed an issue for many students attempting to get around.

This initial path of travel includes the ADA-accessible wheelchair ramps in front of the University Student Union and University Dining Plaza, since these paths bridge the gap between upper and lower campus.

The first million of the upgrades budget was used toward bringing in a consultant to review the school and devise a plan for what areas needed improvement the most, while the remainder of the money is being used for the physical work and upgrades.

“This construction is going to a very good cause,” Zakhour said. “If you ask President Conoley, it’s something she cared deeply enough to try to push it to the top of the list. It’s a Jane Conoley type of a project and she asks about it all the time. She’s very concerned for student life and making sure students have a great experience here.”

Although Design and Construction planned the project in a way that construction in one area of the campus wouldn’t impede the flow of traffic for everyone else, some students have expressed their frustrations with the paths of travel during this phase.

Senior computer science major Amy Yang said her path from the University Student Union to the engineering buildings has had to change since construction began.

“I usually use the ramp by the Chase ATM or the outdoor elevator and ramp that’s by the long set of stairs to upper campus,” Yang said. “They are both under construction right now, so I either have to use the ramp by Brotman Hall to go to [the engineering building] or use the elevator to go the first floor of the [student union]. I think it’s great that they’re making upgrades, but they should not happen at the same time.”

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