Martin J. Manning, P.E.
|October 28, 2002|
American Public Works Association
RE: Comments on the Access Board’s Draft Guidelines on Accessible Public-Rights-of-Way
To Whom It May Concern:
The American Public Works Association (APWA) appreciates the opportunity to submit comments on the Access Board’s Draft Guidelines on Accessible Public-Rights-of-Way. We applaud the efforts of the Public Rights-of-Way Access Advisory Committee (PROWAAC) in crafting recommendations for accommodating the needs of people with disabilities in their use of the public right-of-way.
APWA believes that all communities should provide a safe and inviting environment with facilities and amenities accessible to all, including people with disabilities. Infrastructure within the public right-of-way is rightfully intended to serve the needs of and provide a benefit to entire communities. At the same time, communities have the responsibility to balance their needs and requirements against available resources as part of their overall service delivery missions.
APWA represents 26,000 members throughout the United States. Public works professionals serving APWA member agencies are responsible for the planning, design, construction, maintenance, and daily operation of public infrastructure facilities. At times these facilities may result in challenges to access or other negative impacts for people with disabilities. It is the responsibility of these same public works professionals to assure that such challenges and/or negative impacts constitute a practical minimum. Just as the planning and design of individual facilities involves the use of professional judgment in addressing and working within specific site parameters, APWA believes the best means for meeting accessibility requirements will vary with individual projects.
The membership of APWA generally comprises the body of practitioners and professionals charged with the task of addressing the needs of people with disabilities with respect to their use of the public right-of-way. This charge should be carried out so as to reasonably accommodate people with disabilities while taking into consideration the resources available with which to provide services to all members of the community. Such accommodations within the public right-of-way should be guided by the best management practices identified and suggested by all of the stakeholders.
The draft guidelines address many of the comments received during earlier comment periods. Members of PROWAAC and the Access Board ad hoc committees have worked diligently toward guidelines that generally appear to be applicable to a variety of situations. However, just as there is a diversity of communities and physical conditions represented by APWA member agencies, there is a diversity of opinion as to many of the specific guidelines. Included among these are the need for audible traffic signals, cross slope requirements, traffic signals at roundabouts, tactile warning devices, elevators or lifts at various right-of-way locations, on-street parking, and others.
Accordingly, APWA recommends advocating for the needs of people with disabilities through adherence to best management practices, as determined by professionals serving its member organizations. The guidelines proposed by the Access Board ad hoc committee form the basis for such best management practices. We further recommend the guidelines not evolve into enforceable standards with the inherent sacrifice of local control and professional design creativity.
APWA supports regulations and guidance that:
(1) set out guidelines and best management practices for accommodating the needs of people with disabilities;
(2) maintain local decision-making authority while holding local officials accountable to their constituents;
(3) provide reasonable processes for the review of decisions relating to the manner in which accessibility accommodations are made. Such processes would rely primarily upon administrative reviews by the local agencies making the decision and with access to court relief only after all administrative processes are exhausted;
(4) recognize the need to balance the diverse needs of users of the public right-of-way and take into account the costs of making the accommodations for specific users, including people with disabilities;
(5) provide for flexibility, creativity, and professional judgment in the planning, design, construction, maintenance, and operation of public right-of-way infrastructure; and
(6) support the concept of best management practices as the
preferred guideline to the decision-making process for accommodating users of
the public right-of-way and discourage the concept of a prescriptive
Thank you for the opportunity to offer these comments.
Martin J. Manning, P.E.
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