Scott C. LaBarre, Esq.
|October 28, 2002|
LABARRE LAW OFFICES, P.C.
Scott C. Labarre
This letter serves as my comments to the draft guidelines published by the Board on June 17, 2002, regarding public rights of way. As a preliminary matter, I wish to remind the Board that I serve as a representative from the National Federation of the Blind to the Public Rights of Way Access Advisory Committee, (PROWAAC).In that regard, I drafted the Federation's minority report which was attached to the PROWAAC's final report entitled "Building a True Community."
I incorporate by reference all the comments made in the Minority Report. I also wholly indorse and support the comments being filed by the National Federation of the Blind. The comments below are in supplement and addition to those contained in the above-mentioned documents.
First, I will make a few comments in response to the Board's proposed guideline which calls for Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS's) at every intersection with pedestrian signalization. If adopted throughout America, this guideline would dramatically alter the landscap4e for blind and visually impaired individuals. The cost and impact of implementation of the proposed guideline are extreme. Before taking such a radical measure, the need for doing so must be clearly established.
Let's first look at the cost. At minimum, the standard two-street intersection would require eight APS's. For such an intersection, the cost to purchase of the units alone would be $4,000.00. Within the city limits of Denver, Colorado, there are well over 1000 intersections that would fall under the guideline. It is fair to say, then, that the simple purchase of APS's will cost taxpayers billions of dollars nationwide. This does not take into account the cost of installation and maintenance.
The guideline will also radically alter the face of intersections for blind and visually impaired travelers. Since each APS requires a locator tone, each intersection will have a great deal more noise being projected, making it harder for blind individuals to use the sound of traffic as an important cue. In my view, such noise pollution will make intersection more dangerous for blind and visually impaired travelers.
No one has ever demonstrated a clear need for APS's. There is no evidence that blind and visually impaired pedestrians are being hurt at any higher rate than sighted pedestrians. There is no evidence that blind and visually impaired pedestrians are not travelling in our streets and public rights of ways because of the lack of APS's. Since there is no clearly demonstrated need for the proposed guideline, it is unwise and wasteful to require the expenditure of billions of dollars to implement APS's virtually everywhere. I urge the Board to redraft its proposed guideline in this area and adopt a guideline based on the Minority Report and the comments being filed by the Federation.
The Board has also proposed a guidelines which would require detectable warnings at every intersection. Again, such a guideline will cost billions to implement. Once again, there is no demonstrated need for such warnings. At virtually every intersection in America, a blind/visually impaired individual can determine via, cane, dog, or under foot the grade and slope of the sidewalk. Existing construction normally tells the blind pedestrian that he/she is approaching an intersection.
The only problem results when the intersection is virtually flat. In such a circumstance, it is difficult to tell when sidewalk ends and street intersection begins. That is why the Federation proposes a standard of 1:15. If the slope is at that rate or higher, then detectable warnings should be installed.
If the Federation's proposed standard is adopted, safety will be assured at a fraction of the cost. For that reason, I fully support the Federation's view as outlined in the Minority Report and in the Federation comments to the proposed guidelines.
I thank you very much for your attention to this letter. Please feel free to contact me if you need any clarification or wish further specific comment.
Scott C. LaBarre, Esq.
LaBarre Law Offices P.C.
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