Accessible Public Rights-of-Way
On this page
- Soles and Spokes Workshop: Designing Pedestrian Facilities for Accessibility
- Community Briefing: ADA Transition Plans for Your Community
- Sample ADA Plans and Field Survey Forms
- Technical Documents and Resources
- Accessible Public Rights-of-Way in Northeastern Illinois
CMAP staff has completed a Community Briefing Paper on the process for communities to develop self-evaluations and transition plans required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act. The paper provides information to assist local governments in improving accessibility and complying with the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act by conducting a self-evaluation for accessibility and by developing or updating their transition plans to address necessary physical improvements identified in the self-evaluation.
Accessible communities benefit more than just the disabled. Following accessibility guidelines in public rights-of-way improves access for everyone, thus improving community livability.
CMAP staff has compiled sample transition plans from around the country, at both the municipal and county level, to serve as examples for communities in our region that may be developing or updating their own transition plans. We also provide (below) links to 1) the U.S. Department of Justice publication, ADA Best Practices Tool Kit for State and Local Governments, which in Chapter 6 includes checklists and survey forms for field inspections that are often part of a community's self-evaluation, and 2) to checklists developed by the Northwest (Region 10) ADA Center, which again may be useful to communities planning for or engaged in self-evaluation for accessibility.
City of Elk Grove, CA
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Title II, Self-Evaluation and Transition Plan (2007)
City of Moreno Valley, CA
Public Right of Way Access ADA Transition Plan (2010)
Town of Windsor, CA
ADA Self-Evaluation & Transition Plan – 2007 Survey Update
City of Rancho Cordova, CA
ADA Transition Plan (2007)
City of Springfield, IL
ADA Transition Plan (2011)
City of Sandpoint, WA
ADA Transition Plan (for FY 2011-16)
Mendocino County, CA
ADA Comprehensive Access Plan (2010)
Field Survey Forms:
U.S. Department of Justice
ADA Best Practices Tool Kit for State and Local Governments (see especially Chapter 6)
ADA National Network's Northwest, Region 10, ADA Center
Accessibility Checklists for Existing Facilities and Effective Communications.
Here are links to resources for developing and updating ADA Transition Plans and, more generally, for planning and designing accessible public rights of way.
Primary Source Materials
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which applies non-discrimination requirements to federal programs and activities, including transportation programs, is included in Title V of this act.
The ADA is a broad civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability, defined as "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity." The law's original intent was to create permanent legal protections for people with disabilities and to keep Americans with disabilities in the mainstream of society and public life.
Agency Materials and Information
U.S. Access Board
The Access Board is an independent Federal agency devoted to accessibility for people with disabilities. The Access Board develops and maintains design criteria for the built environment, as well as for transit vehicles, telecommunications equipment, and electronic and information technology. The Board is structured to function as a coordinating body among Federal agencies and to directly represent the public, particularly people with disabilities.
In 2011, the Access Board issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the Public Rights-of-Way Accessibility Guidelines (PROWAG). This link includes the most recent guidelines for public rights-of-way accessibility, as well as supporting documentation for the rulemaking, related design guidance, and research.
The Access Board has released Draft Final Guidelines for Outdoor Developed Areas, including access to trails, beaches, picnic areas, and camping areas.
The Access Board has released an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Shared Use Paths.
The Access Board has also published a Special Report: Accessible Public Rights-of-Way Planning and Design for Alterations, (pdf, August 2007), (also in html). This report and its recommendations are the work of a subcommittee of the Public Rights-of-Way Access Advisory Committee (PROWAAC) and are intended to provide technical assistance only; CMAP staff recommends the design guidance as useful.
U.S. Department of Justice
The Department of Justice enforces substantial elements of the laws and regulations related to disability, provides technical assistance, and has promulgated standards related to many aspects of accessible design (except for transportation vehicles and transportation facilities, among others). The Department of Justice maintains an "ADA Home Page."
The Department of Justice has posted its 2010 ADA Title II Regulations. Subpart D, § 35.150 (program accessibility, existing facilities) includes the regulations requiring transition plans.
The Department of Justice has posted its 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design. These include standards for paths of travel (accessible routes).
The Department of Justice has posted technical assistance documents and resources for state and local governments. These resources include the "ADA Guide for Small Towns," "The ADA and City Governments: Common Problems," and "Commonly Asked Questions about Title II of the ADA."
Federal Highway Administration, Office of Civil Rights
The Federal Highway Administration maintains an accessibility program within its Office of Civil Rights that ensures that people with disabilities have the opportunity to use the transportation system in an accessible and safe manner.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has adopted ADA Standards for Transportation Facilities. These standards apply to the construction and alteration of transportation facilities covered by the ADA. They became effective November 29, 2006. USDOT adopted these standards based on updated 2004 guidelines issued by the Access Board. The standards are consistent with the Board's guidelines except for provisions DOT modified concerning:
- Accessible routes (206.3)
- Detectable warnings on curb ramps (406.8)
- Bus boarding areas (810.2.2), and
- Rail station platforms (810.5.3).
FHWA has posted a library of materials related to accessibility.
FHWA has posted a series of questions and answers. This document includes a section on transition plans.
FHWA has published Designing Sidewalks and Trails for Access: Part II of II: Best Practices Design Guide (2001). Appendix A includes stroll sheets, intersection checklists, curb ramp analysis, driveway crossing analysis, cut-through median analysis, and ramped median analysis forms used for field assessment of sidewalk conditions and ADA compliance.
A 2006 memorandum clarifies FHWA's role in accessibility:
Another 2006 memorandum clarifies FHWA policy related to truncated domes.
Federal Transit Administration, Office of Civil Rights
The FTA Office of Civil Rights is responsible for civil rights compliance and monitoring to ensure nondiscriminatory provision of transit services.
In 2011, the FTA amended DOT ADA regulations related to intercity, commuter, and high-speed passenger railroads.
Other Major Reference Materials
ADA Transition Plans: A Guide to Best Management Practices, Jacobs Engineering Group, NCHRP Project Number 20-7 (232), May 2009. From the guide: "The purpose of this guidance document is to ensure that good ideas, helpful information, and successful practices concerning the development and updating of Transition Plans are recognized, recorded, and shared among Departments of Transportation." The guide is organized into two main sections: Steps to Compliance and Findings and Best Practices of State DOTs. An attachment to the report lists contact information for ADA coordinators by state.
ADA Compliance at Transportation Agencies: A Review of Practices, Cesar Quiroga, Shawn Turner, Texas Transportation Institute, September 2008. The stated purpose of this report was "to gather information and develop a synthesis of practices, including best practices, on the various approaches transportation agencies use to address ADA compliance issues." Chapter 2 includes a section entitled "Design Guides and Other Relevant Documentation," which contains a list of documentation, including training materials, produced by the U.S. Access Board, U.S. Department of Justice, FHWA, state DOTs, cities, counties, metropolitan planning organizations and universities. Also included are sample guides and checklists produced by FHWA and the U.S. Department of Justice.
Accessible Pedestrian Signals. Synthesis and Guide to Best Practice. Source: Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center, 2003.
Accessible Sidewalk Videos. Series of Four Videos Exploring Issues for Pedestrians Who Use Wheelchairs or Are Mobility-Impaired, Low-Vision, or Blind. U.S. Access Board, 2008.
Status of Transition Plans Required under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Metropolitan Chicago, 2002-2010.
In 2002, 60 municipalities in the region responded that they had an "adopted transition plan to comply with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act." As of 2010, 54 municipalities responded that the "had an approved plan to improve or maintain accessibility in the public right-of-way for people with disabilities," during the 2010 CMAP Municipal Plans, Programs, and Operations Survey. While not exactly addressing the same question as in 2002, the 2010 survey indicates that the Chicago region still needs to make progress in planning for accessibility.
ADA transition plans are a legal requirement for local governments with more than 50 employees. Transition plans provide some legal protection for a community's effort to improve accessibility. More importantly, adopting and implementing a transition plan will facilitate steady progress toward improving accessibility, an important aspect of livability for all people with disabilities, and often necessary for employment and services.
Many communities adopted a Transition Plan following the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, but the plans may not be up-to-date, as the law requires. One example of an area that may need to be updated are accessible routes between bus stops and local businesses or housing complexes. Pace Suburban Bus Service has worked with many communities to establish bus stops, but the accessible routes for these stops may not have been established yet.
A transition plan should consist of the following elements:
- A self-evaluation, consisting of a list of physical barriers in the municipality's facilities that limit accessibility of people with disabilities,
- A detailed description of the methods to remove the barriers and make the facilities accessible,
- A schedule for the necessary steps,
- The name of the official responsible for implementation,
- A schedule for providing curb ramps, and
- A record of the opportunities for the disabled communities and other interested parties to participate in the development of the plan.
Communities with more than 50 employees should adopt or regularly maintain their ADA transition plan. CMAP is preparing a brief guide to transition plans for communities. The guide is expected to be available in fiscal year 2012.
Following is a table of the status of ADA plans, addressing the questions above, for 2002 and 2010.
|Area||Has Plan||Does Not Have Plan||Under Development||No Answer or Unknown|
Notes: The response rate for 2010 was 74% (211 responses). The response rate for 2002 was 68% (186 responses) Non-respondents were included in "no answer or unknown" for each survey. The 2002 survey offered a specific option for "unknown," explaining the larger number of "unknown" responses that year. In addition, the 2010 survey was designed to be coordinated among various departments, while the 2002 survey was generally directed to the municipal engineer or public works official.