U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
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Washington, DC 20590

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Pedestrians and Accessible Design

The Office of Program Administration is concerned with the design of pedestrian facilities (e.g., but not limited to sidewalks and curb ramps) that accommodate persons with disabilities in the public right-of-way (PROW). Curb ramps for persons with mobility impairments have been required at pedestrian crossings of highways and streets for many years. The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) have adopted the Americans With Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) as standards. [See http://www.access-board.gov/guidelines-and-standards/buildings-and-sites/about-the-ada-standards] These accessibility standards are primarily for buildings and are to be used for the features covered by the standards. For features not covered by the standards, the draft guidelines for the PROW published by the U.S. Access Board should be used. [See http://www.access-board.gov/guidelines-and-standards/streets-sidewalks/public-rights-of-way]

In 2006, the FHWA issued information to clarify its role and responsibility to oversee compliance on pedestrian access required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504). This information can be found as follows:

In 2013, DOT and DOJ issued Joint Technical Assistance on the ADA requirements to provide curb ramps when streets, roads, or highways are resurfaced. This document can be found on the FHWA Civil Rights page at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/civilrights/programs/doj_fhwa_ta.cfm.

Standards and guidelines for providing accessible facilities may be found on the Access Board's web site at www.access-board.gov. The Access Board is in the process of developing guidelines for the PROW. A draft of the proposed guidelines is posted on the Access Board's web site. After completion of the Access Board's rulemaking the DOJ and DOT will need to adopt the guidelines as standards. Prior to their formal adoption, the guidelines may be used as a best practice where they do not conflict with ADAAG.

Overpasses and Underpasses

The design of all pedestrian overpasses and underpasses must include ramps that do not exceed 1:12 grade (preferably as shallow a grade as possible) and landings must be provided for every 30 inches of rise. Refer to section R405 of the ADAAG for specific provisions applicable to ramps.


The design of all new and altered rest area facilities and parking facilities must comply with the requirements of ADAAG.

Curb ramps, sidewalks, etc., on building sites, such as rest areas, welcome centers or weigh stations, must conform to the requirements of ADAAG.


Additional information on FHWA policies on accessibility issues as well as links to other accessibility sites are contained in the FHWA Civil Rights ADA/504 page and the Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Accessibility.

Updated: 10/09/2014
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000