Sharring experiences in urban infrastructure delivery.

Accessibility During Construction

By: Tom Davis Category: Project Communication, Project Mngt., Recent Posts, Signage


Many of us take for granted that when sidewalks are being rebuilt, or the adjacent street is missing and part of the sidewalk is blocked, we see the sidewalk closure ahead and go to the other side or around the block. We grumble about the detour but it is not a big deal. For someone with limited or no sight, or someone in a hand-powered wheel chair, the detour is more significant.

Particularly if they have made it almost to the end of tsidewalk closed at preston.jpghe block only to find it closed or both crosswalks blocked–now they must go back. That would be a scary and very frustrating thing for me if I was blind. If my elderly aunt in her wheel chair made it that intersection only to have to turn around I would want to know why was there not a policy to have a sign at the beginning of the block that the sidewalk ahead was closed.  Or one with large enough print to read it from the other end.

In the height of downtown Houston’s street reconstruction we recognized that access fpr persons with disabilities should/could/must be maintained. We looked for ways the person with disabilities would not be more inconvenienced that others–or at least not blocked at a dead end sidewalk. We set out to develop guidelines and met the expected lament about raising construction costs; making unenforceable rules; messing309 Travis sidewalk 0003.JPG up the whole world and even worse things. We also realized that to make all contractors and agencies responsible to achieve the same standards we had to make the guidelines law as part of a new ordinance. The naysayers had to face that they better help devised the new rules or those rules could really be “stupid”–in their opinion.

The aspect of the policy development that I am most proud of is that the basis for an ordinance was developed with input from all sides of the design and construction folks in dialog with reasonable, thoughtful representatives of the handicapped users. It was one of those times when everyone on all sides was reasonable and no one was on a crusade to blindly defend their cause or client.

DCP_0016.JPGClick here to read the Ordinance.You will find that a nominal fee is charged to pay for the administration cost of the permit.

In closing I want to highlight the underlying goal: i.e. to not create additional inconveniences for the person with disabilities. Everyone realized that next to a construction is not a great place to traverse but it should not be worse for one part of our community than another. I hope our solution gives you ideas and you improve on them. Your comments will be appreciated.?


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