Since sidewalk and street crossing network is an essential unit of pedestrian mobility, the increased consciousness about inclusivity, and more accessibility problems have come to the fore. This is evident in the increasing number of ADA cases filed in the US district; between 2013 and 2017 as the number of these cases increased by an alarming 100% (5100 to 10733).
The 2018 report1 from the Northwest Pavement Management Association Conference states that most of these cases are employment-related and makeup to 27% of civil rights lawsuits.
In a lawsuit filed against the Oregon Department of Transportation by the Association of Oregon Centers for Independent Living (AOCIL) and eight individuals, the settlement agreement mandated the department to fix missing curb ramps, upgrade existing ones and address accessibility issues over the next 15 years. It is a turning point in the struggle for inclusion in social infrastructure throughout the country.
Details of the settlement2 include:
The implications of this settlement include unforeseen costs for the replacement of substandard curb ramp constructions, the disbursement of unplanned, settlement funds, legal fees, and more accidents because of poor curb ramp design—leading to even more lawsuits.
This lawsuit has sparked proactivity in fixing accessibility issues with pedestrian facilities, causing districts and transportation departments to budget more funds to evaluate and redesign curb ramps, all while trying to avoid litigation.
Can technology aid the design of curb cuts and CAD drawings, shorten the project time of curb ramp construction, ensure accessibility and inclusion, and prevent lawsuits? The answer is yes.
ADA guidelines state that curb ramps must have “at least 36 inches of clear space at the top of the ramp”4 to make room for foot traffic that does not prevent the usage of the ramp. It also stresses that these ramps should not be built “where they will be obstructed by parked vehicles.” ADA ramp construction also requires detectable warnings—to be felt underfoot or with a cane—to cover the width and depth of the ramp run for the safety of curb ramp users.
Jordan Ohlde3, one of the eight individual plaintiffs in the 2016 Oregon lawsuit could only access the road by wheeling his chair on the bicycle lane—a most uncomfortable and potentially dangerous situation. Regarding the 2017 settlement agreement, he says that it will “make Bend more reliable for all citizens, not only for those using wheelchairs but those who use walkers and strollers.”
The ADA reports that 296,658,4755 Americans have ambulatory difficulty. This means that more attention must be paid to accessibility and inclusion in sidewalk design, and any delay in curb ramp reconstruction will bring great discomfort to millions of people who depend on them for motility. Retrofitting substandard curb ramps and building compliant ones is simply the right thing to do.
To design/redesign curb ramps, engineers need to follow guidelines—retrofitting these ramps to specific standards through CAD drawings—and replicate them where they need to be built. This often requires a specific level of skill to achieve and consequently more time and money. Curb ramps (or curb cuts) can cost an average of $1500 each and reworking them can cost as high as $4000 each.
Not only is this process costly, it also takes time and considerable effort. For instance, the 2017 settlement of the Oregon lawsuit directs that the retrofitting of curb ramps be done over 15 years.
This is too much time in between where more accidents could occur, and leave more people depending on this facility to be inconvenienced as they run basic errands, thereby having more lawsuits Getting right is time-saving, cost-effective, and simply the right thing to do.
Here are steps to get ADA ramp construction right at the start of your project;
AQCESSRAMP was developed to help meet ADA compliance with its excellent features that swiftly generate curb ramp geometry based on built-in templates that follow each jurisdiction’s standards. The ability to perform edits via grip points saves time, cost, eliminates tedious repetitions and encourages accessibility and inclusive infrastructure.
There are three major benefits of using AQCESSRAMP:
*Note – this tool still requires the Project Engineer on Record to exercise sound engineering judgment and practices for final design and approvals
If you are looking to achieve accessibility to ensure that your CAD drawings are suitable for ADA ramp design, to reduce the cost and time of manual retrofitting curb ramps to increase productivity, and could prevent more expensive lawsuits, AQCESSRAMP is your best bet.