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Trail Accessibility Requirements

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,623
Points
34
I am working with a client to plan and design to construction ready plans, a multi-use and multi-season recreation trail through an environmentally sensitive riverfront shoreland corridor. To the extent practical, I want to assure that the trail design needs all accessibility standards, since this community has a large and active community of seniors, families with young children (the "stroller crowd"), and to a lessor extent, persons with physical mobility limitations.

The Forest Service has promulgated rules for deviating from accessibility standards which include the following:

1. Where compliance would cause substantial harm to cultural, historic, religious, or significant natural features or characteristics;

2. Where compliance would substantially alter the nature of the setting or the purpose of the facility, or portion of the facility;

3. Where compliance would require construction methods or materials that are prohibited by federal, state, or local regulations or statutes;

4. Where compliance would not be feasible due to terrain or the prevailing construction practices. There are also exceptions that prevent accessibility from being pointlessly piecemealed through a trail when access between segments isn't possible, and there are requirements to provide accessibility to special features where possible.


So the $64,000 question is, hava any of you dealt with trail accessibility problems, and what practical techniques have you implemented?
 

Zoning Goddess

Cyburbian
Messages
13,852
Points
39
I am lucky that I am in FL which is mostly flatter than a pancake and thus the FS exemptions rarely apply (since it would generally involve terrain/view alteration). All of our paved trails are 100% accessible.

That said, we are nearing completion of a "wilderness" trail (18 miles) which is unpaved with minimal clearing/width. It is acceptable because meeting ADA would distinctly alter the wilderness experience.

Where wetlands have been involved, we have used wood or similar material boardwalks that meet ADA, but there have been no great lengths involved that would dictate non-compliance.

If need be, I can put you in touch with our very inventive engineer.
 

Lee Nellis

Cyburbian
Messages
1,369
Points
29
Try the City of Boulder, CO for trail standards. I believe CO also has a set of state standards.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
I am dealing with an issue right now where the slope requirement is difficult to meet. There are ways it can be done, and we are holding the line to ensure that it is done.

Many of the grant programs require that the facilities be constructed to AASHTO standards. I find these to be over-designed. For example, is a ten-foot wide path really necessary or can we get by with eight? We are a community of 14,000 people. The paths on which I used to ride in the Chicago area were only eight feet wide. These, the trail around Travis Lake in Austin, and others have so much more character that the heavily engineered paths we construct.

Ultimately, it is really a judgement call. Where can you diverge from one set of guidelines without risking either an ADA compliance issue or negligent design? So in other words, everything I have said is of no help to you. :-b
 

Lee Nellis

Cyburbian
Messages
1,369
Points
29
I have had a bad experience designing a trail too narrow in an attempt to minimize impact on the surrounding park land. Cardinal is right in saying that AASHTO standards are heavily engineered, but given the explosion of use, I sure wish we'd made it 10'!
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,623
Points
34
Thanks all. Great comments.

This community is putting safety, environmental stewardship, and accessibility on equal ground. Should be interesting....
 
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