Creating ADA-compliant facilities is a continuing requirement for many federal, state and local agencies. ADA Transition Plans that help communities move toward compliance can be complicated and time-consuming. As agencies approach transition plans for ADA compliance, it's essential to understand the additional guidelines they might need to consider. They also should be aware of some new applications that can help expedite and simplify the process.
ADA and Pedestrian Facilities
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal act that established civil rights laws for people with disabilities. It requires that all programs and new and altered facilities, regardless of funding, must be accessible. For the transportation industry, the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) has been designated to ensure the implementation of compliant designs for transportation-related projects, including highways and streets. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Office of Civil Rights oversees the USDOT mandates in these areas.
The 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design Guide (ADAAG) represents the current enforceable federal regulations for Title II and Title III of the ADA and govern accessible design for facilities on-site (typically, public buildings) for state and local agencies. Since the ADAAG does not adequately address features unique to public rights-of-way, the 2011 Proposed Accessibility Guidelines for Pedestrian Facilities in Public Rights-of-Way (PROWAG) draft was developed. Once adopted by the Department of Justice, the design guidelines will become enforceable standards under Title II of ADA.
While PROWAG is not considered mandatory at a federal level yet, many state and local agencies have adopted the guidelines as their ADA policy. The ADA does not require public agencies to provide pedestrian facilities; however, if pedestrian facilities are provided, the facilities must be ADA-compliant.
With the ADA only 30 years old, existing infrastructure is still being reconstructed to meet the requirements. For public agencies with more than 50 employees, ADA transition plans are required. Transition plans must inventory each pedestrian facility, identify necessary improvements, identify the improvement timeline, and list the resources to achieve compliance. Many agencies have many pedestrian facilities and the inventory of the infrastructure can be daunting. The great news is that there is technology available to help simplify and organize the transition planning process.
Data Collection: Geo-Database
When taking inventory of each pedestrian facility, the first step is to capture the qualitative and quantitative data for each site. This includes all the measurements at the site and the physical condition of the concrete, signs and markings, which often results in thousands of data entries.
To keep the data uniform, organized and accurate, B&N built a geo-database using the GIS-collector application. While in the field, engineers access the app using GPS-enabled iPads, which record the location's coordinates and take photographs. The app then goes through a standard set of questions to collect the same data at each location. The standardization prevents any data omissions, and the location-tracking and images allow site visits to be more successful.