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ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Work Zones

According to the ADA accessibility guidelines that were established in the 1990 ADA (American with Disabilities Act), all construction zones must accommodate pedestrians who have physical or mental disabilities.  The completed areas, of course, must be ADA-compliant, but the construction zones themselves must also be compliant.

Prior to starting a construction project, the projectors designer should pay close attention to the pedestrian traffic that passes through that area.  They can use their observations to decide how to best serve the local pedestrians during construction.  In addition, they may wish to meet with local organizations that represent citizens with hearing problems, visual impairments, and physical disabilities.  There, they can discuss the best way to organize these areas safely.

To be ADA-compliant, the construction zone must provide alternative pedestrian routes when their work causes the existing routes to close.  These alternative routes must follow the same ADA accessibility guidelines as the permanent areas did.  For instance, to ensure that wheelchairs can pass through these spaces, sidewalks must have at least a three-foot width. However, if possible, a four-foot width is better.  To allow wheelchairs to get on and off the sidewalks, the areas must include curb ramps.

In addition to serving people with physical disabilities, these areas must also be set up in order to accommodate hearing- and visually-impaired pedestrians equally.  Appropriate signage is essential to alerting pedestrians about the construction zone and how to pass safely through. However, to make the area accessible for the visually impaired, warning signs could be augmented with audible devices.  These could include audible info devices or audible pedestrian signals.

In addition to signs and audible devices, the area can also be made more ADA-compliant for the visually impaired by including channelization devices that can be felt by long canes, like curbing or flexible posts.  However, it is important to make sure that nothing on the path presents a tripping hazard to either pedestrians or their service animals, and that there are no gaps that could threaten to trap canes. 

As long as construction zones are ADA-compliant, all pedestrians can continue to use the areas.  This is important not only for the communities of pedestrians, but also for the local economy, since most areas are reliant on pedestrian traffic, and it is essential for local businesses that these areas remain accessible.  With small investments in signs and other devices, these zones can be safe for everybody.