Yes, Your Sidewalk Needs an ADA-Compliant Curb Ramp
Construction is a tricky business. Whether the job is for private, professional or government use, there is a lot more to doing it right than simply building something sturdy. Regulations and guidelines are abundant, and many people overlook one of the most important regulatory oversights: accessibility. Any location with public access (which includes all sidewalks), must conform to accessibility rules. That means that every curb needs an access ramp and building one to specifications can be trickier than it seems. Here is what you need to know about curb ramp.
Curb ramps fall under the same general requirements for accessibility provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The specific requirements can vary by location and other factors, but these are the general specifications:
- Any access route with more than a ½-inch span or a 5-percent grade requires an accessibility ramp. All sidewalk curbs meet this requirement.
- Lifts and elevators are acceptable alternatives to ramps where applicable.
- Accessibility ramps cannot exceed an 8.33-percent grade.
- The minimum width for a ramp is 36 inches.
- Ramps can have multiple runs, but no run can exceed 30 inches (of total height change).
- Each run must have level landings at the top and bottom.
- Landings between runs must contain a level area that is at least 60 inches by 60 inches.
- Runs that exceed 6 inches must have handrails.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of requirements. It is merely a compilation of the most common, universal regulations that apply to all accessibility ramps.
Getting the Job Done
While the basic requirements are straightforward, there is a host of niche knowledge that goes into ramp compliance. Curbs near schools or playgrounds have separate lists of rules. Work zones have their own classifications, and government zones have enough extra requirements to fill a book. And, all of that excludes handrail regulation. While most curb ramps don’t need handrails, exceptions do exist, and that will expose you to another book’s worth of specification requirements. In all, it’s always best to have an expert to trust. That can ensure that you don’t unwittingly violate any regulations. More importantly, expert knowledge can help you provide the best possible access to all persons.
In the end, this is an investment you are required by law to make. Do it right from the start, and you will avoid unnecessary penalties. You also won’t risk alienating a significant portion of the population. Consider your ramp options along with the requirements. That gives you the flexibility and freedom to accommodate everyone and complete your construction project on the right foot.