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Site Accessibility: Trying to Follow Conflicting Regulations

Some of the most interesting work we do in site development is making sure that the entire site is accessible to those that have physical or mental challenges. With the Baby boomers entering their 60’s, this rapidly growing

Testing the firm, stable, and slip resistance of a paving surface
Testing the firm, stable, and slip resistance of a paving surface

population needs to have full access to our sites.

We have run up against conflicting rules and regulations and navigating those sometime conflicting requirements is difficult.  Add in a challenging topography in this part of the country and we find ourselves trying to accommodate everyone without compromising the overall project goals.

On a recent project in central Pennsylvania, we found it almost impossible to meet the Township’s requirements for pedestrian access from the public right of way, regardless of the grade and the International Building Code requiring an accessible route from the “public way.”  Further, the interrelationship between the IBC, 2010 Standards for Accessible Design, and proposed Outdoor Developed Area Guidelines can be very difficult to interpret.  In this instance, the Federal guidelines for ADA were very reasonable and provided for instances when an accessible route up a very steep grade is simply not feasible without negatively altering the natural area of the site.

As new rules and regulations become law, we must be vigilant to incorporate those requirements in our design of sites.  This week, many of us at Pashek Associates attended a webinar on accessibility and plan to continue this dialogue.  We look forward to applying what we have learned on the next site development project.

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