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Federal-aid Program Administration

Pedestrians and Accessible Design

The Office of Program Administration is concerned with the design of pedestrian facilities for disabled individuals in the public right of way (PROW). Curb cut ramps for wheelchair users have been required at pedestrian crossings of highways and streets on Federal-aid projects 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. These accessibility standards are primarily for buildings and are to be used to the extent feasible until adoption of proposed guidelines for the PROW.

The FHWA recently issued information to clarify their 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:

Standards and guidelines for accommodating the disabled may be found on the Access Board's web site at 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. The draft guidelines may be used as a best practice where they do not conflict with ADAAG.

Until the PROW guidelines are finalized the following requirements of the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (23 CFR 625) (UFAS) as adopted by the General Services Administration (GSA) are to be used for design of all buildings (and facilities) for which Federal and Federal-aid funds are used. Alternatively a State may use the requirements of the ADAAG to meet the requirements of UFAS for accessible design.

Overpasses and Underpasses

  1. 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 platforms should be provided for every 30 inches of rise.
  2. A waiver of the requirements of paragraph (a) above may be requested on a case-by-case basis. In general a waiver is difficult to obtain and based on severe local conditions. Provision of an alternate accessible routing in lieu of making a pedestrian overpass or underpass accessible also requires a waiver. Requests for waivers should be submitted together with a justification to the Office of Program Administration, HIPA-20, for approval. The Office of Program Administration will coordinate the requests with the Access Board and others as appropriate.


  1. The design of all new and altered rest area facilities and parking facilities must comply with the requirements of ADAAG.
  2. Curb ramps, sidewalks, etc., on building sites, such as rest areas, welcome centers or weigh stations, must conform to the requirements of ADAAG.


  • The design of all facilities such as sidewalks and curb cuts not located on a building site must comply with the ADAAG standards.

Additional information on U.S. Department of Transportation policies on accessibility issues as well as links to other accessibility sites are contained in the U.S. Department of Transportation Accessibility Homepage.


Michael Matzke
Office of Program Administration
E-mail Michael

Updated: 01/21/2014

United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration