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Article of Interest - Accessibility

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Michigan Highway Welcome Centers Unveil “Able to Play” Playgrounds
MIRS, July 27, 2006

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"Able to Play" playgrounds, the first universally acceptable playgrounds in the nation to be built at highway rest stops, have been constructed at the two of the busiest Department of Transportation (MDOT) welcome centers.

MDOT Director Kirk Steudle today told Transportation Commission members the playgrounds are in place at the state's Monroe and New Buffalo welcome centers.

Steudle said the playgrounds are small, designed so that any youngster regardless of limitations can use the entire setting in a short time. "Welcome centers are where families take a short travel break, get back their car and go," Steudle said.

No taxpayer dollars were used to build the playgrounds. The Kellogg Foundation paid for the playground sets and constructed them with the help of local businesses and volunteers.

Steudle called these two playgrounds "the tip of the iceberg" because 19 other universally acceptable playgrounds are scheduled for construction at parks, schools and community centers throughout the state.

Steudle said that when the Kellogg Foundation first approached MDOT his first reaction was negative.

"Why would you build a playground near a freeway?" Steudle asked. He was also concerned about risk, liability, insurance and maintenance issues. But he said in two-months time those issues were resolved and he moved from a "no" to "go."

A little trivia: The New Buffalo Welcome Center was the first welcome center to be built in the nation in 1935 along the old U.S. 12. Today, it is the first welcome center in the country to have a universally acceptable playground.


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