HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Improvements around the Brook Road area are making it easier for people with disabilities to get around. It's been a mission for Brian Montgomery, who was actually struck by a car while crossing the street in that area in a wheelchair.
We've done many stories with Montgomery over the years. He's an advocate and activist for people with disabilities. Montgomery says the Brook Road changes are life-changing and long overdue.
People not in wheelchairs are sometimes oblivious to challenges that confront people who are in wheelchairs when they're crossing the street. When Brian looks around at the nearly completed $2 million intersection improvements near St. Joseph's Villa, he's ecstatic.
"Now we can take care of our daily needs and don't have to worry about being in the traffic. It's too much noise and too much traffic," said Montgomery.
He's also reminded of the driver whose car knocked him out of his wheel chair and threw him 35 feet as he crossed the street headed for Walmart.
The area is now in compliance with ADA regulations. It has a wider sidewalk and ramps, and traffic light sensors including technology that responds with longer delays when a person in a wheelchair is detected.
"It's a life-changing thing. Now we don't have to take our life into our hand and go across at our own risk now," said Montgomery. "If the light censor goes off and gives us the walk symbol, we have the right of way. We have something to lean on if something happens. If our chairs cut off when we're crossing for instance. Before the improvements, there was a ditch, so you couldn't...you had to stay in the road. If you try to go in the grass, you go over in the ditch. There was no way for us to indicate to the light we were here. We had to go on a wing and a prayer."
Montgomery was instrumental voicing concerns to VDOT over the years and getting construction started. The transportation department acknowledges certain areas do not meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards, but soon the other side of the street will also reflect the upgrades.
"There are new regulations, and we're making sure we're in compliance with those, especially VDOT standards as well as ADA standards," said VDOT Communications Manager Lindsay LeGrand. "We're bringing them up to regulation and just keeping everybody as safe as possible."
The entire project is on schedule to be completed this summer. If you have an area you think needs upgrading or you think is unsafe, call VDOT Customer Service at 1-800-367-7623.
Copyright 2017 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved