U.S. Legislation, Standards, and Guidance Applicable to APS
Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century
The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) stated that pedestrian safety considerations should be included in new transportation plans and projects.
- Section 1202 (g)(2) directed that they "…shall include the installation, where appropriate, and maintenance of audible traffic signals and audible signs at street crossings."
- Required that FHWA develop guidance on pedestrian and bicycle facility design. A Policy Statement on Accommodating Bicyclists and Pedestrians in Transportation Projects was written, which includes the following statement: "Sidewalks, shared use paths, street crossings (including over- and undercrossings), pedestrian signals, signs, street furniture, transit stops and facilities, and all connecting pathways shall be designed, constructed, operated and maintained so that all pedestrians, including people with disabilities, can travel safely and independently". (TEA-21, 1998)
The MUTCD includes five sections on Accessible Pedestrian Signals, Section 4E.09, Accessible Pedestrian Signals and Detectors – General, Section 4E.10 Accessible Pedestrian Signals and Detectors – Location, Section 4E.11 Accessible Pedestrian Signals and Detectors – Walk Indications, Section 4E.12 Accessible Pedestrian Signals and Detectors – Tactile Arrows and Locator Tones, and Section 4E.13 Accessible Pedestrian Signals and Detectors – Extended Pushbutton Press Features. In addition, Section 4E.08 Pedestrian Detectors provides guidance on the location of all pedestrian detectors (pushbuttons) and is references in Section 4E.10. – 4E.13 .
Section 4D.03, Provisions for Pedestrians, addresses the need for accessible pedestrian signals in the following standards and guidance:
The design and operation of traffic control signals shall take into consideration the needs of pedestrians as well as vehicular traffic.
If engineering judgment indicates the need for provisions for a given pedestrian movement, signal faces conveniently visible to pedestrians shall be provided by pedestrian signal heads (see Chapter 4E) or a vehicular signal face(s) for a concurrent vehicular movement.
Accessible pedestrian signals (see Sections 4E.09 through 4E.13) that provide information in non-visual formats (such as audible tones, speech messages, and/or vibrating surfaces) should be provided where determined appropriate by engineering judgment.
(MUTCD 2009, Section 4D.03, P2,P3&P4)
MUTCD Sections on APS
Section 4E.08 Pedestrian Detectors provides guidance on the location of all pedestrian detectors (pushbuttons) and is referenced in Section 4E.10.
Section 4E.09 Accessible Pedestrian Signals and Detectors – General provides guidance for APS installation decisions, and standards for APS use.
Section 4E.10 Accessible Pedestrian Signals and Detectors – Location specifies the installation locations, with a reference to guidance in Section 4E.08 for all pushbuttons, and lists additional features required where pushbuttons are not separated by more than 10 feet on a corner.
Section 4E.11 Accessible Pedestrian Signals and Detectors – Walk Indications provides standards and guidance for the Walk indications
Section 4E.12 Accessible Pedestrian Signals and Detectors – Tactile Arrows and Locator Tones includes standards and guidance for tactile arrows and pushbutton locator tones.
Section 4E.13 Accessible Pedestrian Signals and Detectors – Extended Pushbutton Press Features addresses specific features called by an extended pushbutton press.
The Federal Highway Administration publishes the MUTCD, with revisions made on a regular basis. Major input to the MUTCD is provided by the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (NCUTCD), which meets twice a year to consider revisions.
Changes to the MUTCD are published in the Federal Register as a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking; followed by a comment period, and other standard Federal rulemaking procedures. A major revision of the MUTCD was completed in 2009.
The MUTCD is available at http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov
The 2009 MUTCD sections on APS are included in Appendix A.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
The requirement for nondiscrimination on the basis of disability dates from well before TEA-21 or the Americans with Disabilities Act. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs and activities receiving or benefiting from federal financial assistance.
"No qualified handicapped person shall…be denied the benefits of…any program or activity that receives or benefits from Federal financial assistance administered by the DOT." (Rehabilitation Act, 1973)
The Act specifically required the installation of curb ramps on federally funded projects.
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a landmark law that protects the civil rights of persons with disabilities. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, State and local government services, transportation, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and telecommunications. The ADA has five parts:
- Title I — Employment
- Title II — Public Services — State and local government services
- Title III — Public Accommodations and services operated by private entities — public accommodations (businesses and non-profit agencies that serve the public) and commercial facilities (other businesses).
- Title IV — Telecommunications — telephone services
- Title V — Miscellaneous provisions
The ADA applies to all programs and facilities of state and local government, regardless of funding source.
Guidelines for implementation of each part of the ADA were developed by agencies charged with that responsibility.
- The U.S. Access Board (Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board) develops and maintains accessibility guidelines for buildings, facilities, and transit vehicles covered by titles II and III of the ADA. These guidelines are known as the ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG).
- ADAAG serves as the basis of enforceable standards issued by the Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Transportation (DOT)
ADAAG and Public Rights-of-Way
Implementing regulations of Title II of the ADA require state and local government programs and properties to be accessible to persons with disabilities.
- ADAAG provides minimum technical provisions for access. The guidelines implementing the ADA were published in 1991, and adopted as final rule (an enforceable standard) by the DOJ and DOT in 1992.
- The section on Public Rights-of-Way, Section 14, was not issued as a final rule at that time.
ADA Standards Development Process
The development of accessibility standards is a long process with numerous opportunities for public input and comment. The development of public rights-of-way standards is under way, but probably will not be completed for several more years.
- Public Rights-of-Way Access Advisory Committee (PROWAAC) was formed by the Access Board in 1999 to develop recommendations for public rights-of-way.
- Recommendations were provided in a report to the Access Board, completed in 2001, Building a True Community: Final Report—Public Rights-of Way Access Advisory Committee. Discussion and advisory notes in that document may be helpful in understanding some of the provisions in Draft PROWAG.
- The Access Board took the PROWAAC recommendations and developed Draft Public Rights-of-Way Accessibility Guidelines. Draft PROWAG was published on June 17, 2002 for comment. A revised draft was published on November 23, 2005. The sections of the Draft PROWAG on APS are included in Appendix A.
- A Regulatory Analysis (RA) of the cost of implementing the rule and development of text, commentary, figures, and preamble of guidelines was completed. After approval of a rule by the Access Board, the RA and rule are reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget before release for publication.
- A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) was published on July 26, 2011 in the Federal Register. Comments were solicited, and the comment period has closed. The staff and the Access Board are evaluating the public comments and will propose any changes deemed necessary. After that, final guidelines will be approved and issued by the Access Board, and eventually be adopted as standards by DOJ and DOT
- Information on progress and the process is posted at http://www.access-board.gov under Public Rights-of-Way.
Draft PROWAG sections on APS
Section R209 requires APS where pedestrian signals are installed and requires APS that comply with MUTCD Section 4E.08 – 4E.13.
Further description and details can be found in Chapter 6.
Responsibility under ADA Implementing Regulations
ADA implementing regulations require programs of state and local governments to be accessible. Barden v. Sacramento, a 2004 court decision, defined sidewalks and street crossings as a program and facility of the state and local government, which must be accessible under Title II of the ADA.
There are several specific sections of the ADA implementing regulations that require accessibility:
- Title II, Subpart D — Program Accessibility, 35.151 New construction and alterations states that: "Each facility …constructed by, on behalf of, or for the use of a public entity shall be designed and constructed in such manner that the facility…is readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities…."
- ""Readily accessible to and usable by" means: …that it can be approached, entered, and used by individuals with disabilities (including mobility, sensory, and cognitive impairments) easily and conveniently. …To the extent that a particular type or element of a facility is not specifically addressed by the standards, [the above] language…is the safest guide.
- ADA Title II: State and Local Government Services, Subpart E — Communications, 35.160 General. "A public entity shall take appropriate steps to ensure that communications with.…members of the public with disabilities are as effective as communications with others."
The bottom line is that ADA requires newly constructed facilities to be accessible even if there are no specific guidelines covering that type of facility. ADA compliance is a civil rights issue.
Draft PROWAG as best practices
In a memo published January 26, 2006, the Federal Highway Administration states: "The Draft Guidelines are not standards until adopted by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Transportation. The present standards to be followed are the ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) standards. However, the Draft Guidelines are the currently recommended best practices, and can be considered the state of the practice that could be followed for areas not fully addressed by the present ADAAG standards. Further, the Draft Guidelines are consistent with the ADA's requirement that all new facilities (and altered facilities to the maximum extent feasible) be designed and constructed to be accessible to and useable by people with disabilities." (Isler memo, 2006)
Note: The "Draft Guidelines" to which the FHWA memo refers are the Draft Public Rights-of-Way Accessibility Guidelines, published in 2005 .
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