The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 is a civil rights statute that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. ADA implementing regulations for Title II prohibit discrimination in the provision of services, programs, and activities by state and local governments. Designing and constructing pedestrian facilities in the public right-of-way that are not usable by people with disabilities may constitute discrimination. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act includes similar prohibitions in the conduct of federally-funded programs.
The DOJ and U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) are authorized by law to adopt standards consistent with the Access Board’s guidelines for use in enforcing the ADA. The DOT has a similar authority under its Rehabilitation Act/504 regulation. The DOJ reviews 504 regulations issued by Federal agencies. When standards consistent with the final PROWAG guidelines are adopted by the DOJ, they will become the new minimum design standards under the ADA for both new construction and alterations of pedestrian facilities in the public right-of-way. The DOT has already indicated its intent to adopt the PROWAG, when completed, into its 504 standards.
In the interim, jurisdictions must continue to design and construct new and altered pedestrian facilities that are accessible to and usable by people with disabilities. The PROWAG Proposed Guidelines (2011) is identified as the current best practice for a public entity to consult for accessibility standards within the public right of way, although it must be noted that these standards are unenforceable at this time. Additional information on Shared Use Paths can be found in the PROWAG Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rule Making (2013). PROWAG Guidelines can be most easily accessed at www.access-board.gov.
For further guidance, reach out to the Rocky Mountain ADA Center directly.