|October 28, 2002|
In order to provide an official comment to you and the U.S. Access Board on the "Draft Guidelines for Accessible Public Rights-of-Way", I am writing this e-mail as official comments from the South Dakota DOT.
After reviewing the comments and recommendations from our AASHTO Task Force on Accessibility in Public Rights-of-Way, I support the documentation presented to U.S. Access Board via resolution passed at our recent AASHTO meeting in Anchorage, Alaska ([...]. I would like to especially emphasize the need to develop an "accessibility design exception" process that will empower the FHWA to sign-off on reasonable variance from the preferred guidelines. I remember you saying that you do not intend to be unreasonable with these guidelines and I can personally see where you and the Board have tried to be flexible. However, I, like many of my associates, have the fear of legal action if these "guidelines" are interpreted strictly. We all desire to accommodate accessibility for people with disabilities, however, I believe there may be very reasonable exceptions to strict rules in some cases (i.e. rural South Dakota, historic districts, urban communities in mountainous terrain, etc.). In such cases, the best reasonableness may be short of expectations, but will at least give it the best shot possible.
A few more comments:
* Notation for Slope - we westerners prefer "flatter" over "shallower"
or "less than"
* Section 1108.1.1 - we suggest we use customary equivalents (i.e.
7/8" vs. 0.9, 1 3/8" vs. 1.4, 3/16" vs. 0.2)
* Section 1108.2 - we think it would be preferred to have a ½"
preformed expansion joint filler behind the back of the curb or railroad crossing surfacing to prevent corner cracks on the detectable warning panel.
* There is desire to see relaxation on the domes and compromise by
using colored concrete only without the domes due to the icing up potential in our climate. We have enough problems with icing on sidewalks with grooved texture. Who will be liable for a pedestrian incident at the ramp locations due to icing? Homeowners are usually responsible for the clearing of the sidewalk of snow and ice in front of their home and, if a homeowner is on a corner lot will that responsibility and liability come with this potential problem in the winter months?
* In addition to the last comment, who would be liable if a child or
adult on a ped/bike path hit the domes while on a skateboard or roller blades and fell into the street and is struck by a vehicle. The odds are there for this to happen. There are a lot more non-disabled people using sidewalks than disabled. We should protect the disabled too, but if there is research out there somewhere where they actually had a test section for rollerbladers and skateboarders we would like to see this. We understand the elderly and the domes did not create much of a problem for them as well as high heeled shoes.
* It may be worth allowing less stringent guidelines in rural towns
with lower populations to at least allow some local decision making on whether it is feasible to completely follow ADA requirements.
* The ADA guidelines should not be mandated until the MUTCD, AASHTO,
and ADA guidelines are redone to come up with practical intersection designs. The way it is now the diagonal ramps are not liked by the ADA people, but the diagonal ramps are the only ones that will work with Radii 20' or greater due to guidelines from AASHTO and MUTCD.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment and I look forward to your responses.
Division of Planning & Engineering
South Dakota Department of Transportation
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