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ADA Self Evaluation for Public Rights-of-Way

Project Description


>> Hello, everyone.

welcome to the City of Charlotte's Public Outreach presentation pertaining to the city's ADA Self‑Evaluation and Transition Plan

specific to Public Rights-of-Way.

My name is Belinda Banger and I represent Cole Design Group.

We are a multidiscipline consulting firm aiding the city in completing this important project.

We appreciate your interest in this subject on improving accessibility in the City of Charlotte's Public Rights-of-Way infrastructure.

First, we will take a moment to ask our presenters to introduce themselves in name and title starting with Terry.

>> Hello.

My name is Terry Bradley.

I'm with the City of Charlotte and I serve as the City of Charlotte's ADA Coordinator.

>> Tracy Van Tassell, and I am with the Charlotte Department of Transportation.

I am the ADA Liaison.

I will say C.D.O.T. for short.

>> I'm Juliann Sheldon, Acting PR and Community Relations Manager for the Charlotte Area Transit System here at the City of Charlotte.

>> Good afternoon.

My name is David Butkus.

I'm an Accessibility Project Manager with Cole Design Group.

>> Again, I am Belinda Banger, vice president and project executive for Cole Design Group.

In today's discussion and presentation, we will cover various topics to include the City of Charlotte's commitment to accessibility and the many activities the city's been engaged in for years to improve accessibility across the city.

We'll also discuss the background of the ADA transition plan process and its purpose as set forth by the law.

We will discuss our approach and the process the city used to get to this point in the project.

We will present an overview of our findings related specifically to the Public Rights-of-Way.

We also have prepared a Summary of Findings document, which will go into more detail regarding our findings throughout this presentation.

The report, itself, contains important information that we share with the public and we will show you where you can access this report later in the presentation.

We will address common questions that pertain to the project and finally, we will discuss next steps and how you can participate in our public feedback survey, which is of great importance for the city.

And now, Terry Bradley, ADA Coordinator for the City of Charlotte, will comment on the city's commitment to accessibility and provide an update for the citywide ADA self‑evaluation plan.

>> Thank you, Belinda.

The City of Charlotte has been committed to accessibility.

Like all public agencies, it's important to be focused and continue improvement and take the time because of the city being so vast.

In 2011, we began very intentional steps to regain and re‑evaluate all of our various services and programs because the city has grown over the years.

In 2019, we kicked off a citywide update with our ADA Self‑Evaluation and Transition Plan.

This included all city‑owned and occupied facilities.

All city programs, policies and procedures, and also public‑facing information technology, such as our website.

This project is 85% complete today.

We will be compiling all of this information into a citywide Self-Evaluation and Transition Plan.

Our public outreach sessions for the project were held in May and also November of 2019.

We anticipate the citywide plan will be available for review by early 2021.

The Public Rights-of-Way portion and project that is being discussed today is the public outreach session that will be incorporated as an addendum to the City of Charlotte's ADA Self‑Evaluation and Transition Plan.

With that, I'll turn it over to Tracy Van Tassell who has been the acting project manager for the city on this vital aspect of our transition plan.

Tracy?

>> Thank you, Terry.

As both Belinda and Terry mentioned, we will be sharing the Public Rights-of-Way findings today.

City of Charlotte has a vast amount of Public Rights-of-Way which is why CATS and C.D.O.T. team together for this project.

You will hear more details about this vitally important piece of the transition plan, but City of Charlotte has been committed to improving accessibility in the Public Rights-of-Way for many years.

Each Department has an ADA liaison and due to the magnitude of the Public Rights-of-Way, the Charlotte Department of Transportation created a full‑time ADA liaison position, which is my role.

We have a 311 citizen request program where you can report any ADA issue, file a complaint or report a missing curb ramp.

We also have an active curb ramp, sidewalk, and intersection alterations program to ensure that ADA improvements are made within the scope of all city projects.

We have updated the Charlotte Land Development Standards to ensure that ADA improvements are made on private projects as well.

CATS has a bus stop committee in which accessibility is a topic and a priority and with that, I will turn it over to Juliann Sheldon from CATS.

Juliann: thank you.

Parts of CATS ongoing commitment to accessibility has included the role of our bus stop committee in reviewing public input regarding bus stops.

These include requests for new bus stops, requests for removal or relocation of existing bus stops and amenities, adding or removing existing route labels to active bus stops, and reviewing issues regarding safety at a bus stop and ADA conformities.

The bus stop committee includes individuals from CATS Bus Operations Division, CATS Safety and Security, CATS Planning, CATS Civil Rights Group, C.D.O.T. Planning, C.D.O.T. Traffic Safety and CATS Manager of Service Development.

The city is committed to accessibility as we showcased in our presentation today.

And now, Belinda Banger will discuss the ADA Self‑Evaluation and Transition Plan background approach and process.

>> Belinda: thank you, Juliann.

We will start with discussing the ADA Self‑Evaluation and Transition Plan purpose and its roots.

There are three main laws that govern accessibility.

The first law, which laid the foundation for future laws, is the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968, also known as the ABA.

Then in 1973, the

Rehabilitation Act was affirmed as law.

Section 504 of this law is what actually ties federal funds to accessibility for public agencies, and finally in 1990, 30 years ago, the ADA, or the Americans With Disabilities Act, was passed.

And it's actually all three of these laws that are still relevant and in active use today when determining accessibility.

Within the ADA, we have several titles.

Now Title II is what deals directly with the public agencies, such as cities, counties, and states, and their requirements for upholding the civil rights law.

It is within Title II of the ADA that public agencies, like the City of Charlotte, are asked to complete an ADA Self‑Evaluation and Transition Plan.

So what is that exactly?  The term, ADA Self-Evaluation and Transition Plan, again, is a requirement of Title II of the ADA law.

It's also a formal process and a report that agencies must develop.

This slide provides a definition of sorts of what the ADA Self-Evaluation and Transition Plan actually is.

The self‑evaluation portion is a process the public agency undergoes to review its programs, services and activities.

We can think of program services, and activities as almost everything that the city does or provides for residents and visitors.

The self‑evaluation piece is the review, or its purpose is really to identify barriers that people living with disabilities encounter in order to remove them.

The transition plan piece of this report is sort of the action plan, which outlines who is responsible for how much time is estimated to remediate barriers, and also provides a planning level cost estimate to complete remediation.

The purpose of the current project acknowledges that the city has changed over time.

It is very common for public agencies to update their ADA Self-Evaluation and Transition Plans as infrastructure, buildings, and services evolve over time.

And this project, specific to Public Rights-of-Way, actually began in 2017, and has taken a few years to complete due to the expansive nature of all of the pedestrian infrastructure throughout the city that Tracy referenced earlier.

It includes the review of all Public Rights-of-Way citywide.

Additionally, our team evaluated the Charlotte Area Transit System bus stops within the city limits and the surrounding areas.

Now that the self‑evaluation data is complete, the results are outlined in the Summary of Findings document, and a high‑level review of that will be shared in this presentation as well.

Our remaining steps of the project include public outreach, which is what you're participating in as you are watching this presentation today.

And following this presentation through January 31st of 2021, we will have a public comment period where you can provide your feedback via a public survey, details of that survey, and how to access it will come at the end of this presentation.

Following the public comment period, our team will prioritize all of the inventory and there is a discussion in this presentation on the approach to that effort.

From there, the city will define an implementation plan which it will include‑‑ which will include a schedule, a strategy, and action steps for improvements needed.

The information will culminate into the transition plan, itself, and that plan will ultimately be adopted by the city.

The purpose of today's meeting and the public survey, or public outreach, is really to understand your feedback on your highest priorities for accessibility improvement.

Your comments are very welcome and again, near the end of this presentation, we will discuss how you can submit that feedback.

Now, I will describe the approach our team utilized to evaluating the Public Rights-of-Way.

First, we identified the boundary of the city and all of the pedestrian infrastructure to be included. the map image on the screen provides a visual of that project boundary and the various pedestrian infrastructure roadways with in it.

Assessment‑wise, our team surveyed and evaluated sidewalks, curb ramps, pedestrian traffic signals, bus stops, and accessible parking along city street corridors.

The image here depicts the ULIP‑ADA, which is a highly technical piece of equipment used to evaluate the sidewalks.

Criteria‑wise, the U.S. Access Board provides design standards and guidance documents, which really create the basis for our evaluation of all pedestrian features.

The surveys that were performed took measurements to evaluate the existing pedestrian features, or to note the lack of a feature where needed.

Now with the magnitude of inventory contained in the Public Rights-of-Way of the City of Charlotte, it was really necessary to consider efficiency and effectiveness in documenting accessibility issues.

Here, we used technology, such as data collectors.

The ULIP‑ADA and GIS mapping integration to ensure a really smart approach to data collection.

On this slide, the image to the left shows a tough pad, which holds customized forms that are our teams used to input compliance issues identified.

The picture to the right shows the ULIP‑ADA, also known as the Ultra-Light Inertia Profiler and this collects sidewalk data.

Now we're going to show a video that is going to provide a visual of this technology in action and I'll attempt to describe what we're watching on screen.

Here at the start of the video, you see the collector, or surveyor, is measuring the width of the sidewalk and he is entering the information into a tough pad at the top of the segway.

The bottom of the segway contains the ULIP, itself.

This is a highly technical piece of equipment with lasers and gyroscopes.

The image to the right is a graph that's showing that the ULIP is actually collecting measurements as it rolls down the sidewalk attached to the segway.

It's collecting cross‑slope and run slope.

It's collecting the actual measurement of any heaves that it encounters in the sidewalk and it's smart enough to depict a twig, say, for instance, versus a sidewalk slab displacement.

Prioritization is very important.

All of this data is essential to complete the self‑evaluation process but the magnitude of the information can be quite overwhelming without a good system in place to determine what should get fixed first.

Our prioritization methodology is a robust one.

It's based on Department of Justice guidance, the U.S. Access Board, and Federal Highway Administration guidance as well.

First, we score the severity of compliance issues based on the actual measurements taken, but just knowing what is wrong, or how severe an issue is, does not really give us a clear enough plan for how or what to remediate first.

Again, because of the magnitude of inventory we've collected.

So we take this information and we combine it with all the various activity generators in the city, such as government buildings, transit stops, medical provider locations, basically all the various goods and services that you may need to access within the city.

We look at the compliance issues and we look at how close they are in proximity to these various goods and services, and this really provides us a robust, quantitative ranking system that tells a much better story of the compliance challenges.

This information is then combined with the public feedback we received from you about the areas of priority and locations where people with disabilities are meeting barriers, and this allows the team to devise a good game plan for remediation over time.

And now David Butkus with Cole will share a high‑level overview of the ADA issues and findings observed.

>> Thank you, Belinda.

My name is David Butkus and I will be summarizing the findings from the data collection efforts of this project within the Public Rights-of-Way.

If you would like to see the data in its entirety, the full report will be made available on the city's website, and we'll be sharing that URL later in this presentation.

As Belinda had already described this was a very large data collection effort, from which we compiled an extensive amount of information for a variety of structural elements within the rights of way.

For the presentation, we will look at each element type in more detail to review the common findings from the project.

Before we dive into each area, we wanted to highlight some general trends that we found that go across the whole data set.

In general, it was found that the most facilities compiled which the 2011 PROWAG and older facilities are those built prior to 2013, more likely to have minor accessibility issues or concerns.

In our experience, performing this work across the country, this is a fairly common trend that we find with state and local agencies in respect to accessibility features within the right‑of‑way.

As I mentioned, the self‑evaluation process included the assessment of structural elements within the rights of way.

the first category of elements that we will look at in more detail is sidewalks.

The photo on the slide which shows a sidewalk running alongside a wide road on a sunny day is a good example of what a typical sidewalk looks like in the City of Charlotte.

Items that were assessed and collected during the project regarding sidewalk compliance criteria included cross slopes and running slopes, cross slopes being the slope of the sidewalk which is perpendicular to the predominant direction of travel.

Running slopes, which is the slope of a walkway, which is parallel to predominant direction of travel, driveway crossing slopes, this collection occurred where pedestrian access routes or sidewalks intersected with driveways. Driveways could have been either commercial or residential.

Heaves or gaps in concrete, gaps and sidewalk connectivity.

This is where a sidewalk is provided on a block but for some reason is not provided for the entirety of the block.

Obstructions, which are typically objects that narrow the width of an accessible route to less than what the PROWAG guidelines describe.

Obstructions could be utilities, street furniture or landscaping elements.

The review also captured vegetation, such as overgrown hedge or low‑hanging tree branch that impacted the sidewalks usability.

The total amount of sidewalk evaluated was 2,143.6 miles.

Of that number, about 38% of the total sidewalk evaluated met PROWAG requirements for cross slope.

On the right of the slide, we have a table which illustrates the sidewalk evaluated and in particular, information regarding a cross slope measurements collected during the project.

There are three categories highlighted here which are shown in green, yellow and red.

That image goes back to what Belinda mentioned earlier in the presentation as far as severity in our prioritization model.

The green category represents sidewalk with compliant cross slopes.

A compliant cross slope for a sidewalk is 2% or less.

Yellow represents sidewalk with non‑compliant slopes between 2 and 4%.

While sidewalk in this category has slopes which are technically non‑complaint.

The sidewalk group represents lower right for remediation than the red category because the slopes here are only slightly out of compliance.

The red category is where slopes were found in excess of 4% and the slope here really start to present more significant barriers to access for individuals with a disability.

Of all the sidewalk that was collected, only 14% of cross slopes collected fell into this red category.

Similarly to cross slopes, we categorized changes in levels, or heaves, into categories based on the significance of the field measurement compared to the PROWAG guidelines.

For this group development, any heavess over one inch were the highest priority.

The last bullet here shows that a total of 6,222 instances were identified throughout the city, where there were heaves greater than one inch.

This represents only 4% of the total number of heaves that were collected during the project.

The next category of information we will discuss is the data collected from curb ramps throughout the city.

On this slide, we have an image of a pair of curb ramps at a corner which are compliant and equipped with color contrasting tactile surfaces, which are technically referred to as a detectable warning surface.

During the data collection process, curb ramps were reviewed for obstructions.

Obstructions being fixed items which prevent compliance or which present compliance issues.

Similar to sidewalk obstructions, these could be utilities, street furniture, or landscaping elements.

Curb ramps were also evaluated for running slope and cross‑slope of the curb ramp, curb ramp side flares, the landings provided at the curb ramp, or what are sometimes referred to as turning spaces, the presence of detectable warnings, and the transition area from the ramp to the pavement.

With the curb ramps, there was a total of 32,867 individual curb ramps evaluated during the project.

Of these, it includes 5,504 locations, where there was missing curb ramps.

These locations are where our pedestrian access route, or sidewalk, crossed an intersection and no curb ramp was provided.

Of the curb ramp inventory, 48% of all curb ramps had run slope issues.

It was found for the ramps with run slope issues that 56% fell into the 8.3 to 10% run slope range, which is slightly out of compliance and represents generally less severe compliance issue than higher ranges, or those above 10%.

Of the ramp inventory, it was also found that 37% of curb ramps met cross slope requirements.

For the ramps that had cross slope issues, 19% fell into the 2 to 3% cross slope range which is considered less severe.

As discussed earlier in the presentation, newer facilities within the right‑of‑way are generally compliant with the 2011 PROWAG.

While curb ramps built prior to 2013 generally had more issues, and this same trend is seen in curb ramps as well and when curb ramps were found to have ADA compliance issues, the most common ones were non‑compliant slopes, missing landings, missing detectable warnings and missing curb ramps entirely.

Here, we have two photos which illustrate issues that were commonly found during the assessment of curb ramps.

On the left, there's a curb ramp which slopes steeply from right to left.

This slope is perpendicular to the predominant direction of travel creating a non‑complaint cross slope.

In the image, the cross slope is depicted with a red arrow.

On the right, we have an image which shows a sidewalk ending at a street crossing and there is no curb ramp provided. This is an example of what we call a missing ramp.

Where pedestrian access routes or sidewalks cross a street and no curb ramp is provided where there should be one.

As a part of the self‑evaluation, the city also included information regarding pedestrian push buttons at signalized intersections.

The image on the slide here shows a pedestrian push button equipped with accessible features serving a marked crosswalk at a busy street.

The evaluation of pedestrian push buttons was done in accordance with the 2011 PROWAG, much like all the other elements in the collection project and also with the 2009 Manual on Uniform Control Devices, or MUTCD, which is referenced by the 2011 PROWAG, the evaluation included looking at the push button reach;, just how far above the ground was button mounted;, the proximity of the push button the street crossing;, the duration of timing for the pedestrian crossing;, and communication features at signalized intersections, such as audible tones, which is the walk noise or the percussive tone provided depending on the layout of the intersection is set up and if the push button was equipped with vibrotactile features and an example which would be an arrow, push button, that also vibrated when pushed.

Overall, 2,993 pedestrian signal push buttons were collected.

During the collection, it was observed that some of the signalized intersections that did have‑‑ they did have complete accessible pedestrian signals, or APS features, the majority of the APS at these intersections were fully accessible.

In terms of common issues within the inventory, roughly 65% of the signals were non‑APS signals and what an APS signal does is it allows for blind, low vision or other individuals who may need crossing information communicated in alternative methods to know when it is time to cross, and the last item here of the 2,993 signals, 60% of the pedestrian push buttons clear floor spaces had slope issues.

Slope issues for a clear floor space is any slope above 2% within the clear floor space needed at the pedestrian push button.

Continuing our findings regarding pedestrian push buttons, it was found that 66% of pedestrian push buttons positioned for a side reach were outside of the compliant reach range.

The requirement here for side reach range is to be less than 10 inches away from the obstruction that prevents the reach from being a forward reach.

The photo on the slide or on the slide illustrates the issue at the pedestrian push buttons.

In this example, the pedestrian push button is mounted within a large flower bed.

The flower bed is bordered by a six‑inch high curb, which positions the clear floor space more than ten inches away from the push button.

Moving onto our last category of assets, or our next category of assets that we included within the project, we'll be looking at findings regarding bus stops.

The image on the slide here shows a bus stop with a bus pad or boarding area that is constructed of large, gray pavers and the pavers appear to be old as they look worn and there are large gaps forming in between them.

Because the paver does not provide a surface free of gaps and changes of level, they do not provide for an accessible boarding area.

Data collected for bus stops included clear floor space at bus stops, access to the stop, boarding in aligning areas, clear floor space next to seating areas which are typically a bench or a fixed bench, and signage.

There were a total of 2,949 bus stops evaluated.

Of these, 42% of all bus stop boarding areas were missing and a boarding area is a space that is eight feet long measured perpendicular to the roadway by five feet wide, which is measured parallel to the roadway, which is a firm surface to facilitate the deployment and use of bus ramps.

When boarding areas were provided, the most common issues were the length and width which was below the minimal requirements or boarding area slopes were above the maximum allowable slope.

Overall, 92% of bus stops were found to have ADA issues.

While this percentage is high, it is important to note that any type of compliance issue, even minor, would cause a bus stop to fall within this category.

On the slide, we have two images which illustrate the difference between accessible bus stop and a non‑accessible bus stop.

The image on the left showcases an accessible bus stop.

There's an open‑air bus shelter provided with plenty of room adjacent to the short side of the bench as well as some other amenities, such as a trash can and a posted bus schedule.

The shelter's offset from the sidewalks which provides for an accessible boarding area.

The image on the right showcases a non‑accessible bus stop.

The picture shows a bus stop on a narrower sidewalk than the accessible bus stop photo and the sidewalk is separated from the road by a strip of grass.

The bench and boarding area for this bus stop area are located within the grass strip which makes them non‑complaint as grass is not an accessible surface.

This concludes the summary of the findings from the data collection for the self‑evaluation.

As I mentioned earlier, what we have presented here is just a high‑level overview of the overall data collected and performing the self‑evaluation.

With that, I will turn the presentation back over to Belinda.

>> Belinda: Thank you, David.

As you can see from the magnitude of information that David has shared, there are so many various issues within the city and it's quite common for agencies across the nation to have the same experience.

While we do have a robust prioritization process in place, your input and the opportunity for the community to comment and provide feedback is very important to our process.

Now, again, we encourage you to take the survey and remember, if you require any accommodations in participating, please do not hesitate to reach out to the ADA coordinator or the ADA liaison of C.D.O.T.

Now, we would like to address some frequently asked questions before we go.

Let's start here.

Next slide, please.

Why is there no sidewalk at my bus stop?  Juliann, could you address this for us?  Thank you.

>> Juliann: absolutely.

The Charlotte Department of Transportation and NC D.O.T. which is the North Carolina Department of Transportation, both have guidelines and regulations that establish the requirements necessary for the installation of any pedestrian infrastructure, which would be a bus stop.

CATS staff works with both of these agencies to coordinate all bus stop amenities, but these agencies all control different aspects of the infrastructure.

The self‑evaluation data will provide information and prioritize where improvements are needed.

If residents have specific locations of concern, the survey feedback is very helpful to prioritize these improvements.

>> Belinda: Great, thank you, Juliann.

Another common question:  Are sidewalks required by the ADA?

>>Tracy: Tracy Van Tassell from C.D.O.T.

I will answer that one.

Many people are surprised to find out that the ADA does not require sidewalks but they do say if you provide sidewalks, they must be accessible to everybody.

I would refer you to the Charlotte WALKS program for sidewalk requirements.

>> Belinda: Thank you, Tracy.

Can you also answer this question?  How do I make a request for a curb ramp or report an ADA issue?

 

>> Tracy: Certainly.

Please contact 311 to request or report an issue.

Our 311 representatives are familiar with ADA and they will route the complaint or the concern to the proper department and if they don't know, they will contact the ADA coordinator and he'll contact the appropriate party.

So it is probably the best way, but now that we're speaking of 311, I would like to show you an example of a complaint where we had to provide a temporary solution before we could ultimately come up with the permanent solution, and this slide that we're looking at right here is of‑‑ it's a photo of Park Road, near the Park Road Shopping Center, and it's showing sidewalk that has a utility pole and a fire hydrant and a pile of dirt blocking access for everybody.

Next slide, please.

This photo is a close‑up, so it actually shows two utility poles and a fire hydrant and a pile of dirt.

What happened was a car hit the utility pole and when the emergency crews made the repair, they had very little room to work with and they put the new pole between the pole and the fire hydrant which blocked access.

So while working with Duke Energy and Charlotte Water to try to determine what to do about this, we discovered that the property was getting ready to be redeveloped, and so one of our contractors provided the plans for us and it showed that they were going to be taking out this old sidewalk and installing an eight‑foot planting strip with a new six‑foot sidewalk behind it.

Knowing that, we realized that the pole and the fire hydrant had to stay where they were, and so our‑‑ one of our right‑of‑way inspectors reached out to the contractor and asked if he could build a path to get around it while this property was under construction.

Next slide, and here you can see the contractor went above and beyond our request.

We originally just asked him if he could put an asphalt path in but he poured a nice concrete path to get everybody around it.

It remained that way for probably at least a year until the final solution.

Next slide.

And now this picture shows an eight‑foot planting strip that has two utility poles with guy wire and a fire hydrant located in them and a beautiful sidewalk right behind it that has no obstructions.

>> Excellent, Tracy.

Thank you.

I think it's a good indication for our public that some of these solutions at times do take time and often, we do have transition area solutions in place until the permanent solutions can be found.

So our next steps, as a reminder, please remember to take the survey.

It is important to our process to obtain feedback from you and with that, I'd like to say thank you.

This will conclude our public outreach presentation.

We appreciate your time today.

Project Schedule

Summer 2017

  • Project Kickoff

  • Began ADA assessment of pedestrian facilities

Summer 2020

  • Data collection complete

  • Summary of Findings compiled by the Consultant and first draft submitted for City review

  • Develop Public Outreach strategy to present Summary of Findings

Fall/Winter 2020

  • Initiate Public Outreach including webpage, virtual meeting and survey

  • Refine prioritization criteria based on input from the public outreach survey

  • Develop a short-term and long-term implementation schedule for barrier removal

  • Draft ADA Transition Plan for the Public Rights-of-Way for review

Spring/Summer 2021

  • Finalize ADA Transition Plan for the Public Rights-of-Way for approval and adoption


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