Case Studies

Minnesota: Integrating Accessibility

In 2002, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) realized that its response to Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 was due for an update. The department’s original needs assessment and retrofit of curb ramps needed upgrading, the department still lacked an ADA Transition Plan, and the Access Board had just released recommendations about how to provide mandated detectable warnings at curbs.

The department eventually created two positions to address this need: an ADA Implementation Coordinator to draft an ADA Transition Plan and integrate ADA guidance into department policy, and an ADA Design Program Engineer to translate that policy into design guidance for staff and contractors. Mn/DOT decided to adapt and adopt the Access Board’s 2005 draft Public Rights-of- Way Accessibility Guidance (PROWAG) design specifications using a multipronged approach.

In February 2010, the agency officially adopted PROWAG for all projects in the design and construction phase and all work in Mn/ DOT rights-of-way, including work done under permit or by agreement by other agencies or private entities.  “PROWAG helped us think through what ADA policies would look like on the ground in varied rights-of-way,” says Kristie Billiar, Mn/DOT’s ADA Implementation Coordinator. “The guidelines are not incongruent to good pedestrian design.” PROWAG is also the basis for Mn/DOT’s ADA Transition Plan, which nears completion.  Mn/DOT also incorporated all but three minor elements of PROWAG into the pedestrian-design chapter of its Road Design Manual.  Todd Grugel, Mn/DOT’s ADA Design Program Engineer, complements the Road Design Manual with additional design guidance and webinars on how to implement PROWAG in specific projects. Future plans include also incorporating PROWAG into the intersection chapter of Mn/DOT’s Road Design Manual and adding accessible design specifications to Requests for Proposal in order to ensure qualified adherence to accessibility standards.

This material is the product of a partnership between America Walks and Sam Schwartz Engineering. Visit here for more information on the partnership.