No sidewalk ramp or a steep ramp?

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runner9
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No sidewalk ramp or a steep ramp?

Post by runner9 » Mon May 04, 2020 4:00 pm

A few blocks from me the waterlines are being replaced. Previously there was a narrow sidewalk to the street crossing and then a curb there.

As part of the project the utility tore out the sidewalk. They then installed a wider section but did not cut the curb so there's still not a ramp, just a 7 inch or so drop to the street.

I e-mailed the county utility and copied the mayor and service director to express my concern and they point out that a sidewalk ramp there would be greater than the allowed slope of 12:1. I measured it to drop roughly 14 inches over 7 feet from the regular sidewalk to the street. The mayor and service director have not responded.

So, the question is is the utility correct that since the new ramp would be steeper than allowed are they correct to just not put in a ramp at all? Changing the street or sidewalk level is beyond the scope of their work as they point out.

Opinions and facts appreciated.

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Last edited by runner9 on Tue May 05, 2020 10:21 am, edited 3 times in total.

123
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Re: No sidewalk ramp or a steep ramp?

Post by 123 » Mon May 04, 2020 4:19 pm

You might have better luck dealing with public works/building department in your area or local elected representative (local mayor or county commissioner). The utility will only be able to confirm what they are doing, the city/county can force them to change their plans if they're not compliant with ADA expectations, local codes, expectations, or elected representative requirements.
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gwe67
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Re: No sidewalk ramp or a steep ramp?

Post by gwe67 » Mon May 04, 2020 4:46 pm

It's not real clear from what you describe. Pictures would help. In the meantime, read this:

https://www.access-board.gov/guidelines ... -additions
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iceport
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Re: No sidewalk ramp or a steep ramp?

Post by iceport » Mon May 04, 2020 4:59 pm

runner9 wrote:
Mon May 04, 2020 4:00 pm
So, the question is is the utility correct that since the new ramp would be steeper than allowed are they correct to just not put in a ramp at all? Changing the street or sidewalk level is beyond the scope of their work as they point out.
It's nearly impossible to know without a lot more detail. The 12:1 slope is a federal (DOJ) ADA requirement, and ADA requirements are fairly rigid. There is precious little flexibility allowed, and most engineers are too concerned with liability to even attempt common sense measures to comply with the law in creative ways, in the rare cases where that it might even be feasible. And there is little in the way of practical guidance for making the best of the specific conditions of the site, without actually violating the law. Cost, lack of sufficient ROW, utility involvement and general disruption of the area present other common constraints.

Is the location at an intersection or other location with a crosswalk? If not, a ramp is not typically warranted. If there is a crosswalk there, a sidewalk ramp is required. If it's at a mid-block location without a crosswalk, a ramp would be contra-indicated, as it would encourage pedestrian crossings at an undesirable location.

How far is the nearest ramp? Is there a high pedestrian demand for a ramp your location of interest? If located at an intersection, is there a signal there? How about a pedestrian push button and walk phase?

ADA compliance is practically it's own discipline these days...
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runner9
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Re: No sidewalk ramp or a steep ramp?

Post by runner9 » Mon May 04, 2020 5:32 pm

I added 2 photos. It is a corner, one street (getting new water line) dead end into another street.

criticalmass
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Re: No sidewalk ramp or a steep ramp?

Post by criticalmass » Mon May 04, 2020 6:00 pm

It is likely that an accessible path and crossing is required if it is a public street. Contact your elected officials and/or DoT, DPW, etc. agency responsible for sidewalks. The utility is unlikely to be responsible for upgrading paths from non accessible to accessible, unless they are responsible for the original non accessible condition.

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iceport
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Re: No sidewalk ramp or a steep ramp?

Post by iceport » Mon May 04, 2020 6:08 pm

Ooof! That's clearly not ADA compliant, but unfortunately it's already built now. (BTW, the curbing looks like it was existing, not new?) There's probably a way to fit an ADA compliant design, but it would involve much more design effort and sidewalk reconstruction. The sidewalk could be reconstructed a ways back in both directions from the corner, to slope it down closer to the roadway grade. In conjunction with that, it would probably need to be transitioned closer to the roadway, so that the lowered grade could be sloped back up to the nearby lawn grade within the ROW, assuming the ROW line is near the back of the existing sidewalk. It's unfortunate, because the type of work I could envision doesn't seem that far beyond the scope of work already underway (there seems to be lots of new sidewalk construction already involved) — except now that would include tearing up and wasting new construction. It's a difficult situation for all involved.

Is there a known resident with disabilities in the area? That could certainly factor into any decision to consider revisions at this late stage. Are other neighbors upset about it too? There is often strength in numbers.

I don't know what a service director is. Is it similar to a director of public works? I'd send an email there and to the city engineer, and note the lack of ADA compliance. That, in writing, should get their attention. It is possible that there is some form of exemption to providing ADA compliance there, but given the scope of work already underway and the general accessibility of the rest of the facility, it's not clear to me what would justify an exemption.

Some reference material, depending on how much reading you want to do on your own:

https://www.access-board.gov/guidelines ... lterations

https://www.access-board.gov/guidelines ... -solutions

https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bi ... k2/pdf.cfm

https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bi ... apter7.pdf
"Discipline matters more than allocation.” ─William Bernstein

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gwe67
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Re: No sidewalk ramp or a steep ramp?

Post by gwe67 » Mon May 04, 2020 8:30 pm

I don't think you have much to argue about. They did not build a barrier to pedestrian travel (the curb is old) and they did not diminish the level of accessibility that existed previously. And unless you have a certain disability, you are not protected by the ADA.
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obafgkm
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Re: No sidewalk ramp or a steep ramp?

Post by obafgkm » Mon May 04, 2020 8:51 pm

iceport wrote:
Mon May 04, 2020 6:08 pm
Is there a known resident with disabilities in the area? That could certainly factor into any decision to consider revisions at this late stage.
That might factor into any decision, but I remember I never really thought about curb cuts (I know, able-bodied privilege) until I was taking my baby daughter on walks in her stroller. Then I noticed every curb without a cutout, every staired entrance into public buildings ("you have to use the back entrance -- there's an elevator"), and every narrow sidewalk.

Neighbors may not think about a curb cut until they need it. I hope the original poster (OP) prevails.

strafe
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Re: No sidewalk ramp or a steep ramp?

Post by strafe » Mon May 04, 2020 9:05 pm

It looks like there is a driveway with curb cut out 10ft away.

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iceport
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Re: No sidewalk ramp or a steep ramp?

Post by iceport » Mon May 04, 2020 10:30 pm

gwe67 wrote:
Mon May 04, 2020 8:30 pm
I don't think you have much to argue about. They did not build a barrier to pedestrian travel (the curb is old) and they did not diminish the level of accessibility that existed previously. And unless you have a certain disability, you are not protected by the ADA.
Well, for one thing, accessibility actually was diminished, because the sidewalk stub leading to the roadway was relocated from an area with no curb, and thus no 7" barrier to passage, to an area with a 7" vertical concrete curb.

But even if the condition were pre-existing, as soon as the scope of work included full depth sidewalk reconstruction on a public way, the sidewalk reconstruction must be ADA compliant if technically feasible. Only the most superficial preservation or maintenance activities are exempt from ADA compliance responsibilities, to my knowledge. Ripping up the whole sidewalk on the corner and replacing it is easily a big enough scope of work to warrant bringing that particular location into compliance if it wasn't already.

As far as I am aware, the only way for the work to be exempt from ADA requirements is if the facility itself is not considered accessible, which isn't the case here on this typical residential public street with generally flat grades.

That doesn't necessarily mean the OP can easily force a construction change at this point. But I do believe the law is on their side.
"Discipline matters more than allocation.” ─William Bernstein

criticalmass
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Re: No sidewalk ramp or a steep ramp?

Post by criticalmass » Tue May 05, 2020 11:16 am

gwe67 wrote:
Mon May 04, 2020 8:30 pm
I don't think you have much to argue about. They did not build a barrier to pedestrian travel (the curb is old) and they did not diminish the level of accessibility that existed previously. And unless you have a certain disability, you are not protected by the ADA.
Fortunately, under ADA, public sidewalks need to be accessible, regardless if anybody living nearby at the moment is disabled or not.

Assuming this is public, the only question here is if the sidewalk is grandfathered and if not who is responsible for providing accessible access. Not diminishing level of accessibility is not good enough to the disabled community, or to ADA.

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iceport
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Re: No sidewalk ramp or a steep ramp?

Post by iceport » Tue May 05, 2020 11:54 am

obafgkm wrote:
Mon May 04, 2020 8:51 pm
iceport wrote:
Mon May 04, 2020 6:08 pm
Is there a known resident with disabilities in the area? That could certainly factor into any decision to consider revisions at this late stage.
That might factor into any decision, but I remember I never really thought about curb cuts (I know, able-bodied privilege) until I was taking my baby daughter on walks in her stroller. Then I noticed every curb without a cutout, every staired entrance into public buildings ("you have to use the back entrance -- there's an elevator"), and every narrow sidewalk.

Neighbors may not think about a curb cut until they need it. I hope the original poster (OP) prevails.
Agreed! You're preaching to the choir. And the critical aspect of this to understand is that ultimately safety is at stake, not just convenience.

Your story reminded me of other stories I've heard. Due partly to human nature, I must assume, and also cost, engineers have been dragged along kicking and screaming as each new pedestrian safety and mobility mandate has been implemented. Gradually the mindset has been shifting, but it's been glacially slow. I have heard stories about designers who were actually sat down in wheelchairs and asked to navigate common sidewalk challenges all of a sudden having epiphanies and realizing how critically important even some of the seemingly trivial details can be when they were personally confronted with them.

So yes, the OP should follow through with this.

All that being said, I would expect some extreme push-back and stonewalling, if for no other reason than the unfortunate timing of addressing the matter. Municipal and public utility budgets are tight, and corrective action here could be seen as unjustifiably expensive. And while all locations matter, this location is, by some objective measures, not as high a priority as maybe others with higher pedestrian and traffic volumes, and higher speeds. (Unless, that is, there is a known demand for accessibility here.) But forcing the issue here would help to reinforce the need to address accessibility up-front, rather than as an expensive after-thought. Hopefully, it could be a learning experience for those responsible.
criticalmass wrote:
Tue May 05, 2020 11:16 am
Assuming this is public, the only question here is if the sidewalk is grandfathered and if not who is responsible for providing accessible access.
As far as I know, any grandfathering goes away for any portion of the facility that is torn up and replaced. That's what happened on this corner.

And even that grandfathering doesn't absolve the owner of maintenance responsibilities. If sidewalk joints heave over time and leave tripping hazards or obstructions to access, the owner is responsible for bringing the facility back into at least as much compliance as when it was originally constructed. Somewhat ironically, I think every municipality in my state transfers that maintenance responsibility to the adjacent property owners. :|
"Discipline matters more than allocation.” ─William Bernstein

NCSU1980
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Re: No sidewalk ramp or a steep ramp?

Post by NCSU1980 » Tue May 05, 2020 9:56 pm

strafe wrote:
Mon May 04, 2020 9:05 pm
It looks like there is a driveway with curb cut out 10ft away.
Although that adjacent driveway would appear to solve the issue of getting from the sidewalk into the street without facing the obstacle of a 7 inch curb face, the driveway route may not meet ADA criteria depending on the height of the lip at the depressed curb opening.

I was surprised to find that the State DOT guidance in my area specifically states that the driveway curb opening is not considered ADA compliant because the 1.5 inch vertical lip is an impediment to wheel chair accessibility. Other parts of the document limit the edge or lip to 0.25 inch height to meet ADA.

ADA compatibility is not always intuitive and can be quite complicated to the layperson.

Saving$
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Re: No sidewalk ramp or a steep ramp?

Post by Saving$ » Tue May 05, 2020 10:18 pm

1. Their installation is not compliant. They need to install a curb cut.
2. The curb cut itself must have a slope not more than 1:12 (8.33%) from the bottom of the curb (street gutter) to where the ramp meets the sidewalk.
3. The curb cut must have detectable warning strips
4. None of this has anything to do with whether a person who has a disability requiring use of a curb cut lives nearby - the code is to be followed regardless.

In most jurisdictions the sidewalk itself does not need to be 1:12. Natural topography often precludes ADA slope. However, in the photo you posted there should be no problem maintaining a 1:12 slope. It shocks me that in 2020 people still construct as if ADA did not exist. The ADA has been around for over 30 years. There is no excuse for this.

You may want to read here: https://www.ada.gov/pcatoolkit/chap6toolkit.htm
The challenge with ADA is that it is technically enforced by the justice department rather than the local jurisdiction. However many local jurisdictions have adopted a version of ADA and enforce that locally.. So you have to lodge a complaint there for anything to be done. I can confirm people lodge complaints, and things get done.

The contractor installing this probably has a contract provision requiring compliance with all applicable codes. If they don't have an engineering drawing repairing this is on them. If there is a drawing, and it shows what they built, this is on the engineer/designer, as the contractor is probably obligated to construct what was drawn regardless.

Keep being the squeaky wheel...

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