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., sidewalks, curb ramps, and other related features or facilities) that accommodate persons with disabilities in the public right-of-way (PROW). Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 prohibits States and other public entities from discriminating on the basis of disability in the entities' services, programs, or activities, including access to the PROW. The Department of Justice (DOJ) is the Federal agency responsible for coordinating the activities of Federal agencies with respect to State and local government compliance with Title II of the ADA. In 2010, DOJ adopted the 2004 ADA Accessibility Guidelines (2004 ADAAG) as a component of its standards for accessible design. These accessibility standards were developed primarily for buildings but are to be used for the features in the PROW covered by the standards.

Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act (Public Law 93-112) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in Federally assisted programs. DOT's implementing regulations for Section 504 are found at 49 CFR Part 27. In 2006, DOT adopted the 2004 ADAAG as accessibility standards under Section 504, but in doing so, DOT added Section 406.8, which requires detectable warnings at curb ramps.

In 2006, the FHWA issued Q&As addressing accessibility issues in the PROW. In 2013, DOT and DOJ issued Joint Technical Assistance on the ADA requirements to provide curb ramps when streets, roads, or highways are altered through resurfacing.

The U.S. Access Board is in the process of developing guidelines specifically 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 into their respective ADA and Section 504 regulations before the guidelines can be considered enforceable standards. Until the proposed guidelines are adopted as standards, FHWA considers the proposed guidelines to represent best practices for accessibility issues in the PROW not covered by DOJ's or DOT's currently adopted standards.

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 DOJ Standard.


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

Curb ramps, sidewalks, etc., on building sites, such as rest areas, welcome centers or weigh stations, must conform to the DOT and DOJ standards cited above.


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: 04/15/2015
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000