(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Dan Benson, Angela McKnight and Benjie Wimberly to ensure that critical public access points for the disabled are not blocked by snow was approved Thursday by the General Assembly.
“Large amounts of snow can hamper most people from getting around. Now imagine that you’re disabled and mobility becomes all but impossible if critical public areas aren’t plowed or shoveled properly,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “The removal of snow from public roadways, walkways, and other public areas is a critical service during an emergency snow event.”
“Snow deposits that obstruct access to ramps, curbs, special parking spaces, and other crucial areas that provide access to people with disabilities create potential health and safety risks and impedes the mobility of many New Jersey residents,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “This bill is designed to ensure that we are more mindful of our fellow neighbors.”
“A heavy snow storm can make mobility that much harder for people with disabilities, especially when enhancements designed to provide access are blocked by snow deposits,” said McKnight (D-Hudson). “This would help ensure that we are not putting our disabled residents at a disadvantage, and that we are providing for all residents when responding to a major snow event.”
“Snow, in large amounts, can quickly turn into a nuisance, as public spaces get taken up by snow deposits. For people with disabilities, this can further limit their ability to get around,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This bill would help ensure that snowplow operators don’t block public spaces that are meant to facilitate access to individuals with disabilities.”
The bill (A-2361) would prohibit snowplow operators or operators of equipment used for the removal of snow on a public roadway, public walkway, or on private property open to the public or to which the public is invited, from depositing snow or causing snow to be deposited on any properly marked access ramp, curb cut, special parking space, or other improvement designed to provide access to persons with disabilities.
If snow is obstructing any properly marked access ramp, curb cut, special parking space, or other improvement designed to provide access to persons with disabilities, it must be removed within 24 hours after the weather condition causing the snow ceases.
An operator who fails to comply with the bill would be fined $250 for the first offense and $500 for each subsequent offense.
The bill was approved 63-6-4 and now awaits further consideration by the Senate.