Technical Assistance Q&A for Alterations Projects

Alterations are projects planned for implementation by a jurisdiction. Program access obligations for existing facilities are not a part of the Board’s accessibility guidelines, and the Board’s responses to the following questions do not address program access issues (see title II of the ADA at 28 CFR 35.149 and 35.151).

Curb Ramps
Question: A multi-block length of roadway is being resurfaced. The corners have curb ramps that meet some but not all of the current specifications; for example the cross slope may be too steep or the curb ramps do not have detectable warnings. Must the curb ramps be reconstructed as part of the resurfacing project?
Answer: Yes, if it is technically feasible to provide complying features. The work should be done at the same time the resurfacing is being done.

Question: New curb ramps are being installed at an existing developed corner. New construction standards require the curb ramp to be within the crosswalk, but an existing underground utility vault is located where the ramp should be. Must the utility vault be moved?
Answer: The scope of this project will determine the answer. If utilities are being moved for other reasons within the project limits, it may be possible to alter or relocate the vault. If project construction will not involve the vault, it may be technically infeasible to locate the curb ramp optimally. It may be possible to widen the crosswalk markings to include the curb ramp.

Question: What if the curb ramp can be placed over the vault, but the access cover would be located on the curb ramp?
Answer: If the access cover must be located on the curb ramp, it should meet the surface requirements of the pedestrian access route.

Question: One corner of an intersection is being altered by curb and gutter reconstruction and paired curb ramps are being installed as part of this project. The other three corners of the intersection are not being altered. Must curb ramps be provided at the unaltered corners as part of this work?
Answer: No. The scope of the project requires curb ramps only at the altered corner.

Question: A project will be undertaken to connect a series of sidewalk segments near a school. Must the existing segments of sidewalk be modified if they do not meet width or cross slope provisions?
Answer: Yes, to the maximum extent feasible within the scope of the project. Agencies are not required to expand a planned scope of work to include other items of accessibility.

Question: A new sidewalk is being built along an existing road that contains driveway access points. Must those driveways be modified if their cross slope exceeds 2%?
Answer: Yes, to the maximum extent feasible within the scope of the project.

Question: A city is rebuilding a sidewalk along Main Street. The distance between the edge of the right-of-way and the existing road does not provide sufficient room for a 4-foot-wide pedestrian access route. Does the municipality have to acquire more right-of-way on private property or narrow the roadway to provide the necessary space?
Answer: No, these guidelines do not require the municipality to obtain right-of-way or to narrow roadways. A municipality may decide to do either for other reasons (for instance, the roadway may be narrowed as a larger traffic calming effort or as part of a larger project in the roadway).

Question: Curb ramps are being installed at a signalized intersection as part of a roadway improvement project. Existing pedestrian signals are pedestrian actuated but the pushbuttons are not accessible or placed in accessible locations. Must accessible pedestrian signals be installed at the existing pedestrian signals?
Answer: If work on pedestrian pushbuttons is not planned as part of this project, there is no need to expand its scope to include APS.

Question: The pedestrian signals in a corridor are being replaced with new combined count-down signals. Must APS be included in the new system?
Answer: Yes. The installation of a new system is an alteration that requires compliance with the new construction guidelines to the maximum extent feasible. However, the addition of a new feature, such as a countdown face or larger display, to an existing installed system does not require that the scope of work be expanded to include other features.

Question: Count-down signal displays are being added to the existing pedestrian signal heads at an intersection, but the software and signal controller are not being altered. Must APS be installed?
Answer: No, simply adding a display to the existing WALK/DON’T WALK signal would not involve the system changes needed to implement APS.

Question: An intersection is being signalized and will include APS. The installation of stub poles on the existing sidewalks to mount the new pedbuttons will not involve disturbing the roadway or sidewalk. Must curb ramps be installed if none existed?
Answer: No. This is a project to install pedbuttons; it is not an alteration to the sidewalk or street that would require the installation of curb ramps, as required by 28 CFR 35.151(e).

Question: The pushbutton on an existing pedestrian signal is being replaced with a sturdier model. Must APS be installed?
Answer: No, but the new pushbutton must meet applicable requirements (i.e., location, height, operable parts).

Question: An intersection with sidewalks and pedestrian signals is being widened to include a right turn lane. Must APS be installed as a consequence of the widening project?
Answer: No, installing APS is not within scope of the project. Any new pedestrian pushbuttons installed in the course of the work must meet applicable requirements. Note that this project is an alteration to the street and sidewalk and thus must provide compliant curb ramps.

Question: The local public transit agency has designated a bus stop by placing a sign in the ground along a roadway with no sidewalk. Must a concrete or other improved surface be installed?
Answer: No, the placement of a bus stop sign alone does not require other site improvements. When other site improvements are provided they should meet the applicable access requirements.