Town of Bethlehem ADA Transition Plan Amendment
The information provided below outlines recent efforts undertaken by the Town to ensure progress in addressing ADA accessibility issues within the public right-of-way. Bethlehem has made a significant and long-term commitment to improving the accessibility of its public right-of-way. The purpose of the ADA Transition Plan Amendment, which is currently in development, is to ensure that the Town of Bethlehem identifies prohibited structural barriers to its public right-of-way, and, where structurally feasible, schedules and implements ADA-required improvements in order to remove those barriers.
In 1993 the Town completed an ADA Self-Evaluation Plan, which was adopted by the Town Board. The plan addressed ADA accessibility for Town buildings and parks, with limited evaluation provided for sidewalks and curb ramps.
The Town is currently in the process of amending the 1993 self-evaluation plan to incorporate an evaluation of sidewalks, curb ramps, and crosswalks within the public right-of-way.
ADA Transition Plan Legal Requirements
The federal legislation known as the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), enacted on July 26, 1990, provides comprehensive civil rights protections to persons with disabilities in the areas of employment, state and local government services, and access to public accommodations, transportation, and telecommunications. ADA regulations prohibit discrimination against individuals on the basis of disability and require state and local governments to make their programs and services accessible to persons with disabilities. These requirements focus on providing accessibility by addressing and eliminating structural barriers associated with public facilities.
Title II of the ADA specifically applies to "public entities" such as the (state and local governments with 50 or more employees) and the programs, services, and activities they deliver. Title II Article 8, requires public entities to take several steps designed to achieve compliance.
One such step is the development of an ADA Transition Plan, which at a minimum shall include:
A Transition Plan provides a method for a public entity to schedule and implement ADA required improvements to existing streets and sidewalks within the public right-of-way. Before a Transition Plan can be developed, an inventory of the current curb ramps and sidewalks must be developed. The purpose of this amendment is to ensure the Town of Bethlehem creates reasonable, accessible paths of travel within Town roadway right-of-way for everyone, including people with disabilities.
Elements of the ADA Transition Plan Amendment
The purpose for updating the 1993 Self-Evaluation Plan is for the following reasons:
Assessment of Existing Sidewalk Conditions
In 2014, the Town Highway Department completed an inventory and assessment of the existing sidewalk conditions. A Geographic Information System (GIS) data layer of the Town sidewalks with 2014 existing conditions is now included in the Town’s infrastructure GIS database.
A sidewalk assessment form was prepared and includes a table describing defects accompanied by photographs, each with a ranking between values 1 and 9. A value of “1” indicates the sidewalk has a “failed” condition while a value of “9” indicates a sidewalk is in “excellent” condition.
Assessment of Existing Curb Ramp Conditions
In 2016, the Town Highway Department completed the curb ramp inventory and assessment. Guidance from the Critical Elements for the Design, Layout and Acceptance of Pedestrian Facilities evaluation form produced by the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), located in Chapter 18 – Pedestrian Facility Design of the NYSDOT Highway Design Manual, was utilized to develop the Town’s curb ramp assessment form. A GIS data layer of the Town curb ramps with 2016 existing conditions is now included in the Town’s infrastructure GIS database.
The results of the sidewalk and curb ramp evaluations, as well as a preliminary assessment of annual funding over a 20-year period to bring the Town into compliance with the accessibility requirements was presented to the Town Board at is September 14, 2016 meeting. The preliminary assessment concluded the Town should allocate $52,750 annually for sidewalk and curb ramp improvements.
The Town will use the Public Right-of-Way Accessibility Guidelines (PROWAG), prepared by the US Access Board, when making improvements to pedestrian facilities.
Ken Kovalchik, AICP
Department of Economic Development and Planning
(518) 439-4955 x1155