I Wonder: What are the bumpy ramp things on sidewalks

I Wonder: What are the bumpy ramp things on sidewalks

Credit: Don Day/KTVB.COM

Viewers are curious what these rubber mats found all over town are for.


by Don Day

Bio | Email | Follow: @DonLDay


Posted on October 25, 2009 at 3:00 PM

Updated Sunday, Mar 16 at 7:57 PM

What is the actual purpose of those yellow grid things they are installing in all the new sidewalks? We have come up with a couple different scenarios but would like to know the facts!! P.S. - there's a family bet riding on the answer!

- Patti via e-mail

Boise's had a breakout of bumps. Usually they're yellow, sometimes red - but everywhere you look, the bumps are spreading.

They started downtown, but now you can find them all over - from the North End to Meridian and points in between.

You'll find the bumps where the rubber meets the road - or at least, on rubber near the road. They're found where sidewalks slope down and meet the nearby road - giving pedestrians access to crosswalks. The red and yellow blocks break up endless ribbons of drab grey sidewalks all over town.

The Ada County Highway District started the project in 2006 to meet Federal Americans with Disabilities Act standards. The ramps are more formally known as "detectable warning surfaces" - that bright color combined with the raised bumps allow walkers and bicyclists of all abilities to have a better idea of where the sidewalk transitions to a road.

ACHD started revamping intersections in downtown Boise with the new surfaces, and now requires all new sidewalks at intersections to use the bumpy ramps. As time goes by, more and more areas across the county will have the devices.

Each ramp costs about $300-$400 to install.

So why are some yellow, and some red?  Standards don't dictate the color of the ramps - instead saying they have to stand in contrast to the surrounding sidewalk, according to Robbie Johnson with ACHD. Yellow is the most common color, but in the downtown area, many of the ramps are a brick red color. Johnson said that was part of a request from the City of Boise, which wanted the ramps to better mesh with the downtown environment.

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