Thousand Palms woman in power chair raises concerns about roads without sidewalks

Cynthia Rullo's biggest safety concern is a strech of Bob Hope Drive in Rancho Mirage

Rancho Mirage, CALIF. - CBS Local 2 stands for you, and that includes helping valley residents who face extra challenges because of physical disabilities.

We responded to the concerns of a woman from Thousand Palms whose efforts to get around in a power chair are made more difficult in places that don't have sidewalks.

As she does most every day, Cynthia Rullo rides her power chair along a roadway in Thousand Palms on her way to the bus stop on Ramon Road.

But the road, like many others in the valley, does not have sidewalks causing Rullo to be all the more concerned about her safety while riding with traffic on the street.

"Its unsafe and could cause a problem.  I could get hit by a car," said Rullo.

We decided to interview Rullo after she first called CBS Local 2 asking us to "stand for her" in her effort to get answers and maybe even some sidewalks installed.

"I'm speaking in safety terms.  I'm speaking for the public.  It is not just for me in a power chair, it is for anybody walking down these little residential streets, to get to the bus to go to the library, or whatever they are going on public transportation," said Rullo.

Rullo says she has concerns with a number of locations around the valley, but says the spot that gives her the most trouble is a stretch of roadway without a sidewalk in Rancho Mirage.  

Its Bob Hope Drive just north of the intersection with Gerald Ford.  

Rullo says several times, she shared the roadway with drivers while rolling to the bus stop near the medical office after visiting the grocery store nearby.

Preferring a safer path to that bus stop, she now takes a much longer, more indirect route on the sidewalk on the other side of Bob Hope.

"Well, its upsetting because your plan to get somewhere takes longer," said Rullo.

To find out what could be done to address Rullo's concerns about Bob Hope Drive, we went to City Hall in Rancho Mirage.

Unfortunately we found out there is not much the city can do to address her concerns, at least right now.    

The Director of Public Works tells us, generally speaking, the city won't install a sidewalk next to a property unless the owner of a property has plans to develop a parcel, and the owner of the empty lot on Bob Hope at Gerald Ford has not submitted development plans for the property.    

Bruce Harry says the city would install a sidewalk if there was significant demand for it. But right now, that is not the case at the location in question.    

The cost of adding 600 feet of sidewalk at the location would be about $30 thousand dollars.

"Well we certainly understand her concern.  Obviously it is very expensive to build sidewalks, and if there are other alternatives, we will certainly look at those as well, and we hope that individuals also look at alternatives, because sometimes it is impossible to do things people think are simple to do," said Harry.

Offering a little hope for Russo for the long term, the Public Works Director says a sidewalk could be installed along the section of Bob Hope when the city adds new left turn lanes at the intersection with Gerald Ford in the Summer of 2015.

In the meantime, city officials in Rancho Mirage suggest Russo might use Sunline's "Sundial" transportation service, which takes riders door to door.

But, at a cost of two dollars for a one way ride, Russo says that would be too costly for her to pay on a regular basis.

"I just plan to leave a lot earlier no so I can get things done via the bus," said Rullo.  

A county official says there are currently no plans to install sidewalks along the roads in Thousand Palms pointed out by Russo. 

He also said redevelopment money used to help cover the cost of sidewalk construction in the past is no longer available.

However the county transportation department will consider suggestions on where to build sidewalks during yearly planning.


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