Cameron Berkuti, P.E., P.L.S
October 14, 2002
Cameron Berkuti, P.E., P.L.S
Director of Public Works/City Engineer
Dear Mr. Windley:
The City of La Mesa would like to thank you for your effort in developing a
usefula nd practical guidance for immproving public pedestrians who have
disabilities. As you are aware, there is no Federal scopingor technical
requirements htat have been established that apply specifically to the public
right-of-way. There is a need to achieve a more consistent approach to the
design of accessible right-of-way features.
The City of La Mesa has reviewed the advance draft guidelines on accessible
public right-of-way and would like to bring to your attention the following
concerns on the draft guidelines that may have significant financial and
1. Section 1101.3 "Defined Terms": It is recommended that a separate and
comprehensive definition section for Chapter 11 regulations be developed without
referring to the rest of the ADAAG definitions that were written for buildings.
Citing practical examples would very helpful. The definitions should include the
a. Blended Transitions,
b. Street Furniture,
e. New Constrution,
h. Site Infeasibility, and
Some ADA compliance problems have arisen from differing interpretation of these
terms. We specifically recommend that the removal of a wearing surface for a
roadway and its replacement with new thickness of paving be defined as a routine
maintenance program and not an "alteration."
2. Section 1102 "Scoping Requirements": The discussion of provisions indicates
that pedestrian elements are not required where none are intended. However, that
interpretation is unclear from the wording of Section 1102. The discussion also
indicates only the elements by construction have to comply with the provisions,
but there appears to be areas of easy misinterpretation such as Section 1102.4
which states, "The pedestrian access route shall connect to elements required to
comply with Chapter 11."
The requirement to acquire right-of-way where "practicable" may have great
financial and political impacts on public works projects, which may be
technically feasible but have a requirement to purchase right-of-way from an
unwilling seller. Though, most agencies have the right to exercise imminent
domain provisions, acquiring right-of-way is a very lengthy, burdensome, and
expensive process and may force agencies to abandon a worthy project.
We recommend that right-of-way acquisition be changed to "where practicable le
as determined by the local jurisdictions."
3. Section 1102.2.2 states that "Where existing elements or spaces in the public
right-of-way are altered, each altered element or space shall comply with the
applicable provisions of Chapter 11." It is necessary to indicate that street
resurfacing, sealing and rehabilitation are not considered a street alteration.
4. Sections 1188.8.131.52.1 and 1111 "Alternate Circulation Path": The requirement
to provide an alternate path on the same side of the street, with no provision
for "reasonableness", is not practical in many instances. There are times the
scope and location of the construction site, pedestrian safety, and traffic
control lanes are such that no pedestrians can be accommodated on the same side
of the street.
5. In Section 1102.6, there is a conflict in the requirement to have the ramp
located within the width of each crosswalk and the desire of the advisory
committee to discourage single ramp installations when there are not marked
crosswalks and 48-inch sidewalks are attached to the back of the curb head. The
"unmarked crosswalk" definition, clarifying that a crosswalk is the extension of
sidewalk lines, means that only a single combined ramp could be constructed for
the ramps to be located within the unmarked crosswalks.
The double ramp requirement is financially burdensome on communities in
California. California Title 24 permits a single ramp installation and 99% of
the intersections in the San Diego Region are equipped with single ramps. We
recommend that single ramps be allowed an option.
6. Sections 1102.14 and 1109 "On-Street Parking": The requirement to provide at
least one accessible parking space with a 60" access aisle on every residential
block face is not practical, and it will be viewed by the public and business
community as being extremely excessive. Our recommendation would be to require
handicap spaces in long blocks and only in business or commercial areas. A
reasonable approach is needed to balance the need and implications of this
7. Section 1102.15 " Passenger Loading Zones": The discussion text states a
5-foot access aisle is required for each passenger-loading zone (PLZ). This has
the effect of limiting our ability to quickly install PLZ signing and if these
requirements are adopted, we will not be able to install PLZs in the
accommodating manner that we have historically done. It is recommended that
access aisles adjacent to PLZs be eliminated as a mandated construction
requirement and exceptions should be made for short zones.
8. Section 1103 "Pedestrian Access Route": The meaning of the statement "Changes
in level shall be separated horizontally 30 inches minimum" is vague.
9. Section 1103.3 states that the minimum clear width of a pedestrian access
route shall be 48 inches, exclusive of the width of the curb. Under the ADA
Accessibility Guidelines as published in the June 20, 1994 Federal Register, the
minimum clear width of a continu0ous passage is 36 inches (Section 14.2.1). A
recent 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Barden v. City of Sacramento, ruled that
public sidewalks are covered under Title II of the ADA and thus require local
governments to bring sidewalks into compliance with ADA standards. This case,
along with the proposed guidelines, could trigger a need for all jurisdictions
to develop a program to move all obstacles such as traffic signals, controllers,
signposts, and any other fixture, which presents a clear width of less than 48
10. Section 1103.6 "Surfaces": The advisory committee had recommended that
sidewalks contain a path that was smooth and free of irregular surface features
-- a "reduced vibration zone." This would mean no paving blocks, granite pavers,
and possibly stamped concrete.
11. Section 1103.5 should provide several exceptions where grades of a
pedestrian route can be allowed to exceed the grades of the adjacent roadway.
12. Section 1104 "Curb Ramps and Blended Transitions": The wording seems to
imply that ramps can only be parallel or perpendicular. Many times crosswalks
are skewed and the allowance of a ramp parallel to the crosswalk (but not
perpendicular to the road) might provide better direction. In Sections
1184.108.40.206 and 1220.127.116.11, it is not obvious why there would be concern for
specifying a minimum slope. It is recommended that a parallel pedestrian ramp in
skewed crosswalks be allowed to be installed in the center of the crosswalk.
13. Sections 1104.3.2 and 1103 "Detectable Warning Surfaces": We are concerned
about the financial implications to retrofit existing pedestrian ramps with
detectable warnings. Requiring these devices only on flat ramps (less that 1:15)
would help to minimize our concerns.
14. Section 1105.2.1 "Pedestrian Crossings": Increasing the width of a marked
crosswalk from the MUTCD minimum width of 6 feet to 8 feet seems to indicate
that the extra width will help those with vision impairments and those who use
wheelchairs to pass. We respectfully disagree with that conception. Marking
crosswalks does neither provide extra protection nor does constrain or confine
pedestrians and there is absolutely no requirement to mark any crosswalk.
15. Section 1105.2.2 requirement for the maximum cross slope of 1:48 or 2%
"tables" at each intersection will degrade the rid-ability of vehicular traffic
and may compound grade problems in mid-block sections of steep roadways. It is
recommended that existing intersections be exempted from providing the 2%
cross-slope and 5% slope for walkways due to the complexity of adjusting
intersections and surrounding land use.
16. Section 11052.3 requirement for 1:20, or 5%, maximum running slope will
conflict with super elevation requirements of higher speed roadways with "tee"
intersections located on horizontal curves. To reduce super elevation to 5% or
less will potentially compromise the safety of the motoring public.
17. Section 1105.3 "Pedestrian Signal Phase Timing": The requirements of 3 feet
per second as the maximum walking time and increasing the distance to include
ramp lengths will significantly increase congestion, affect the traffic signal
coordination along major corridors, adversely impact air quality, increase fuel
consumption, and cause unnecessary vehicle delay which can be directly related
to increased accidents at intersections as well as amplified driver frustration.
Our recommendation would be to require jurisdictions develop pedestrian
clearance timing in concert with the disabled community, based on the specific
requirements of the specific location.
18. Section 1105.4: The width of the median island is not specified. We would
assume it to be 48 inches, however, the discussion contained in the crosswalk
width section could lead one to assume the minimum width should be 96 inches.
This should be clarified.
19. Section 1105.5 "Pedestrian Overpasses and Underpasses": The requirement to
install an elevator or limited-use elevator for all ramps rising more than 60
inches for a pedestrian overpass will not only be expensive but also not
practical. An unsupervised elevator will create a safety issue for pedestrians
when they become disabled. This requirement will discourage the installation of
an overpass. Our recommendation would be to have "resting platforms" at
appropriate intervals, like other ramps.
20. Section "1105.6 "Roundabouts": The requirements proposed in this section are
not consistent with accessible pedestrian considerations in other areas. There
will also be unintended consequences associated with these requirements if
21. Section 1105.6.1 requirement to install a continuous barrier is not
consistent with other applications where pedestrians are prohibited, yet
barriers are not required. The positive guidance approach is the best way to
handle the concern of pedestrians wandering through the center of the
roundabout. As shown in the discussion page picture, sidewalks and ramp
locations can better address pedestrian channelization than hard to maintain,
22. Section 1105.6.2 "Signals": The requirement for signalization on every leg
of every roundabout is not practical. Thousands of low-volume, neighborhood
roundabouts are being built, many as traffic calming devices. To require signals
is tremendously cost prohibitive and does not ensure additional safety benefits.
An unintended consequence may be an explosion of drivers violating the red light
and disrespect for these signals specifically and all signals generally if
numerous unwarranted signals are installed where drivers perceive they are being
stopped unnecessarily. A fundamental concept for roundabout crosswalks is the
designer must treat each crossing as a mid-block crosswalk, both in theory and
in design. The access board discussion states, "Because crossing at a roundabout
requires a pedestrian to visually select a safe gap between cars that may not
stop, accessibility has been problematic." However, this same problem exists at
every mid-block crosswalk. If there is a mandate to require signals here, then
the argument could be made that every crosswalk everywhere should be signalized.
That is why engineering criteria and judgment are needed so that a rational
balance of perspectives is maintained.
While this proposed regulation could have an impact on using roundabouts in the
future, we are also concerned about the "alteration" impacts of our current
23. Section 1105.7 "Turn Lanes at Intersections": The requirement to signalizing
right-turn slip lanes would essentially eliminate slip lane design for
unsignalized intersections. This would increase congestion, which would also
increase intersection accidents. We recommend that jurisdictions, in
consultation with the disabled community, evaluate the signalization of slip
lanes at signalized intersections.
24. Section 1106 "Accessible Pedestrian Signal Systems": We generally agree with
the proposal to require pedestrian signal devices that provide better
information and guidance for the pedestrian, even though there will be a slight
increase in installation costs. However, there is a precision to the location
dimensions that many times simply cannot be met. The "location" wording should
be changed to communicate the concept as a guidance statement without making it
25. Section 1106.2 "Pedestrian Signal Devices": It is not clear what kind of
street "alteration" will dictate the installation of both audible and
vibrotactile indications of the walk interval at pedestrian signal indications.
26. Section 1106.4 requires installation of tactile and visual signs on the face
of the device or its housing or mounting indicating crosswalk direction and the
name of the street. Tactile street name signals are not required at any other
location and to require them on pedestrian crossing hardware changes devices
from "off the shelf" equipment to custom devices. This makes them almost
impossible to effectively maintain.
27. Section 1109.2 "Parallel Parking Spaces": The requirement to provide a
60-inch access aisle is extremely burdensome and will restrict our ability to
help the disabled community in an expeditious manner. The five-foot indent is
not practical in residential neighborhoods. With this requirement, we will not
be able to provide a handicapped space in an expeditious manner and we will have
to propose a capital project to construct a five feet indent aisle. This means
projects will have to compete with other city projects for very limited funds
and, even if funded, would have large time delays before completion. It would
also restrict our flexibility to respond to changing needs by moving a handicap
space slightly. Once the space is installed, we would lose our ability to
quickly change locations to accommodate specific requests.
Our recommendation would be to eliminate this requirement. It does not serve the
best long-term interests of the disabled community. In addition, the 5-foot
minimum height of handicap signs is in violation of the minimum requirements of
28. Section 1111.6 requires the installation of a lower rail within 1 1/2 inch
of the surface. This requirement does not make sense since railings only require
a rail at 27 inches for detectability. Not allowing the use of flexible fencing
material would appear to be an unnecessary restriction. Plastic fencing products
are now extremely strong, durable and easy to install, and would appear to
accommodate the need to provide pedestrian channelization and protection in a
reasonable manner. The allowance of this material would make it much easier for
jurisdictions to require protection in very short-term construction areas.
29. Final Comment: In California, we are also required to comply with the
State's Title 24 that has contradicting requirements with the Federal
requirements. We urge the Access Board to resolve this issue.
The City of La Mesa has been and continues to be in support of reasonable
accommodations within the public right-of-way. The above comments and
suggestions are made in the spirit of making the concept of providing access for
the disabled community reasonable, practical, and financially affordable. You
may contact me at [ ... ].
Cameron Berkuti, P.E., P.L.S.
Director of Public Works/City Engineer