Maryland Portal Home
Click here for Accessible Site Navigation
Business Center
Projects & Studies
Commuter & Travel
Safety Programs
Environment & Community
Info Center
State Highway Administration

Minutes of Meeting - January 9, 2007

Subscribe to E-mail Alerts Subscribe to Email Alerts
Meeting Date: January 9, 2007
Subject: ADA Advisory Committee Meeting #3
Location: Hearing and Speech Agency (HASA), Auditorium
Recorder: Melissa Hedrick/ Jen Reigle
Attendees: Neil Pedersen SHA Administrator
Doug Simmons SHA Deputy Administrator
Linda Singer SHA Office of Policy and Research
Norie Calvert SHA Office of Highway Development
Ed Paulis SHA Office of Traffic and Safety (OOTS) (via teleconference)
John Gaver Office of Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH)
Craig Borne Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT)
Karen Shipley SHA Office of Equal Opportunity OEO
Richard Woo SHA Policy
Marian Vessels Transcen (via teleconference)
Harriet Levine Jacobs
Jennifer Reigle Jacobs
Observers: John Gover SHA Office of Highway Development
Ben Dubin Alliance of Disability Commissions
Pam Perez SHA OEO
Pat Sheehan American Council for the Blind (ACB) (via teleconference)
Members Unable To Attend: Lisa Choplin SHA Office of Highway Development
Scot Morrell SHA Office of Counsel
Rosemarie Morales Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
Duane Geruschat Maryland School for the Blind
Sharon Maneki National Federation of the Blind ( NFB )
Yvonne Dunkle Office of Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH)
Tom Curtis Maryland Department of Disabilities (DOD)
Phil Strong American Council for the Blind (ACB)
Andrea Buonincontro Making Choices for Independent Living
Sylvester (Sly) Beiler ARC of Baltimore
Troy Parham SHA OEO
Marni McNeese Alliance of Disability Commissions

The purpose of the meeting was to continue coordination on SHA’s ADA program. Main agenda items included the Self-Evaluation progress update and maintenance of accessible pedestrian traffic.


The meeting began with introductions. Teleconferencing was used for the first time at these meetings in order to accommodate more members who were not able to attend the meeting in person. Linda Singer stated a few pointers for everyone to follow when speaking, such as stating your name each time you speak so that those on the phone know who is talking. The layout of the facility was explained and the ground rules were established.

Neil Pedersen addressed the Committee on the new State government and administration. John Porcari was recently named the new Secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation. The new administration has indicated that they are a strong supporter of pedestrian, biker and ADA issues. Neil and SHA are looking forward to having this type of support from them for the upcoming term.

With no objections from the attendees, the minutes of the previous meeting were approved.

Harriet Levine provided a brief overview and update of the follow up items from the previous meeting:

  • SHA sent its ADA policies and brochures to all the members of the Committee shortly after the last meeting. If anyone needs these in alternative formats, please ask Linda or Jen.
  • SHA is in the process of contacting the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and Maryland Transit Administration ( MTA ) to coordinate the findings of the Self-Evaluation field survey pertaining to these agencies’ bus stops. Pat Sheehan provided Steve Yaffee as a contact at WMATA.
  • SHA found that the issue of quiet cars is not being taken on by the DOTs but by the car industry. Pat informed the Committee that the National Foundation of the Blind ( NFB ) sponsored a seminar on this topic in November 2006 and would forward information from the seminar to Linda. Pat is very interested in sharing information between agencies on quiet car issues.

Harriet Levine provided a brief update on progress of other SHA ADA initiatives that are not listed as agenda items later in the meeting:

  • Awareness training for all of SHA’s staff has started; technical training for SHA design staff has completed the first round and technical training for SHA construction staff is just starting and will continue throughout the year.
  • More portions have been added to the ADA website and will continue to do so. Ben asked if the website was ADA compliant as the Maryland Department of Disabilities (DOD) has had trouble with the background color and contrast with the font color. Harriet informed that it is compliant based on SHA standards and that if anyone finds something on the site that is not, please let SHA know so that it can be corrected.
  • There have been a total of 74 APS installed during the 2006 calendar year, with 6 of these occurring since the last meeting. Based on a comment at an earlier meeting, Pat asked Ed Paulis if there were supposed to be 70 APS installed between July and October 2006 and Ed responded that there are supposed to be 70 for the calendar year. Ed continued to explain the estimated figure for the 2007 calendar year based on the type of projects the APS will be installed under. Ed is expecting more APS to be added to the 2007 list as the year progresses.

Self-Evaluation Update

A field visit was conducted along the stretch of Reisterstown Road (MD 140) just inside the Beltway (I-695) on October 26, 2006 . Only a handful of Committee members were present. The consultant that performed the field survey for SHA was present and demonstrated the procedures taken to inventory the various elements along the sidewalk. During the field walk, a few questions arose with one in particular pertaining to signs mounted on posts along the sidewalk. Currently there is a standard, the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), which states that signs and other devices mounted lower than 7 feet above a pedestrian pathway shall not project more then 4 inches into the pedestrian route. This was not included in the field survey if the sign was outside the 4-5 foot clear area, but will be addressed in the construction contracts once projects are identified. Due to the fact that signs and their locations change frequently, it was determined that it would be pulled into projects when detailed field surveys and design documents are prepared.

Self-Evaluation Results

The Self-Evaluation field work was completed and the results are being used to form the baseline from which it will be possible to identify needs and document progress. Based on the field work completed, over 5 million linear feet (1,004 miles) of sidewalk have been evaluated across the State. Of the sidewalks surveyed, forty-nine (49) percent were found to be non-compliant. Most of the sidewalk non-compliance was due to insufficient sidewalk width and/or cross slope. Other reasons for non-compliance on sidewalks include gaps and obstructions.

Less than one (0.05) percent of curb ramps and approximately twenty-five (25) percent of driveway crossings were compliant. The major factor in the low-level of compliance for curb ramps is the relatively recent requirement for detectable warnings on curb ramps. Incorrect geometry (slopes, widths, landings, etc.) also accounts for non-compliance in curb ramps and driveway crossings.

Access to bus stops was evaluated for sidewalk width, cross slope, obstructions and gaps. Fifty-one (51) percent of bus stops were non-compliant from an access standpoint. The actual bus stops were not assessed since other agencies including the Maryland Transit Administration ( MTA ) and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) own the bus facilities. SHA will be coordinating with these agencies as the Self-Evaluation and Transition Plan move forward to ensure that improvements are coordinated between the agencies.

Finally, medians were evaluated for pedestrian access at crosswalks. Thirty-one (31) percent of median treatments are non-compliant with current ADA standards.

SHA also has results of the Self-Evaluation broken down by County and will be sending that information out after the meeting.

Ben Dubin asked how many of the non-compliant elements were installed or constructed after ADA rules were developed and implemented? Norie responded that the information is not broken down by date.

Norie went on to explain that after every project is completed each element is field verified to ensure that it is constructed correctly. If the element is not installed or constructed correctly, it will be redone by the Contractor. Therefore the reporting of progress in upgrading all the non-compliant elements on SHA’s system will be slow since the feature will not be considered compliant until construction is complete and field verified.

Doug Simmons asked Norie if post-construction reviews are being performed when SHA is not part of the project, such as county or developer projects. Norie stated that SHA’s Office of Construction maintains a quarterly report that tracks all projects for counties and local municipalities. There is no tracking of developer projects. Doug responded that SHA needs to look into this issue and try to systematically track developer projects.

Public Meetings

The next step in the Self Evaluation plan is public involvement and input through public meetings. Harriet informed the Committee that SHA is currently in the process of planning the first three county public meetings for Baltimore, Montgomery and Prince George ’s counties. The meeting for Baltimore County is anticipated to be scheduled in March 2007. SHA is still working on how to display the Self-Evaluation results for these meetings as there are some counties that have hundreds of feet of paper maps in order to show a readable scale. Currently, SHA is looking at making paper maps, using computer software that would allow the operator (SHA staff) to zoom in and out of areas within the county or combining the two types of displays. SHA is also planning on placing the information on the SHA ADA website to allow the public the opportunity to comment without having to attend a meeting. In order to make this information compliant with Section 508, SHA will provide, by request, text descriptions of specific sections of State roadways and the status of the elements along it.

Neil asked how much time will be devoted to the prioritization process at these meetings. Harriet responded that the input we receive from the public will be used to help determine the prioritization process, along with the input that we have received from the Advisory Committee during the first meeting in July, 2006.

Ben asked if SHA was planning on working with the local commissions to plan and/or advertise these meetings. If not, he asked how SHA would be advertising for the meetings. Harriet responded that in counties where there are local commissions, SHA plans on contacting them for suggestions on locations and other details. SHA would like to advertise through the local commissions as well as through the prominent newspapers and radio, where appropriate. At the last meeting, Yvonne Dunkle provided mailing lists of the organizations she coordinates with and Tom Curtis offered to pass along information to other organizations. If more organizations are willing to do this, SHA would appreciate it. Marian Vessels offered to do so as well.

John Gaver asked if SHA is coordinating with MTA on bus stop issues and if a representative from MTA will be present at these meetings. Harriet stated that is a great idea and assured John Gaver that any information SHA receives that pertains to another Maryland transportation agency, SHA has been and will continue to pass that information along to the appropriate people.

Transition Plan

Neil’s earlier question about prioritization is the link between the Self-Evaluation and Transition Plan or implementation. The State has currently received funding for ADA related projects though the prioritization is yet to be completed. Therefore SHA has advertised two open-ended contracts for Districts 3 (Montgomery and Prince George’s counties) and 4 (Baltimore and Harford counties) based on the amount of pedestrian activity in the areas, the amount of time needed for construction (projects that can be completed prior to July 2007) and the locations of certain facilities, such as health care, libraries, senior centers and public office buildings. Specific projects for these contracts have not been identified but once they have been they can be distributed to this Committee.

Maintenance of Accessible Pedestrian Traffic

Norie presented a slideshow on maintaining pedestrian traffic in work zones. This slideshow was sent out electronically prior to the meeting. SHA would like to receive feedback from the Committee, as well as the engineering industry, prior to finalizing a specification that will be included in future construction contracts. Norie is presenting this same presentation at the Maryland Quality Initiative (MdQI) on January 17, 2007 for consultants, contractors and other State and County agencies.

On Slide 9, Neil asked what is considered an accessible route. If there is no sidewalk available, could the shoulder of the roadway be used? Norie stated that yes; the shoulder could be used if there is no sidewalk to use during construction. Neil stated that this will be a challenge on bridges.

On Slide 18, Ben asked if there would be a way for SHA to identify and advertise to the public alternate routes in advance. Norie responded that this would be discussed later in the presentation.

On Slide 22, John Gaver asked if Norie received his e-mail pertaining to the slope of temporary curb ramps. ADAAG specifies a 12:1 slope while SHA is now specifying a 10:1 slope. Norie said that this difference is due to the fact the 10:1 slope is for temporary ramps only. John Gaver also added that providing ramps into areas with vehicular traffic is discouraged. Norie stated that she would follow-up on this comment via e-mail.

On Slide 25, Harriet raised the question of what methods to use in order communicate a sidewalk closure, including the closure length, to someone with a white cane or low vision? MUTCD does not state a list of methods resulting in SHA having to develop such a list. John Gaver asked if SHA has the technology for talking signs. Norie responded that SHA has discussed using temporary APS but the technology presents issues such as temporary anchorage, vandalism and increased cost, which need to be overcome. Therefore this type of technology can be used on a case-by-case basis depending on factors such as amount of pedestrian activity, locations to facilities that are used by people with visual disabilities, etc. John Gaver suggested that SHA contact Leslie Sagato or Joyce Callihan at MTA , as she has had experience with talking signs. Craig added that if SHA uses APS for construction zone crossings to be sure that it is directional and not just tone. The group felt that this would have to be addressed on a project-specific basis and no detailed specification could be written to cover all projects.

On Slide 26, Neil asked if access to all homes would have to be maintained even if they are not originally ADA compliant. Norie responded that access had to be maintained, not necessarily ADA compliant accessibility. Neil suggested that SHA evaluate this issue further to ensure that the policy addresses reasonability vs. feasibility.

After the presentation, Pat asked when this presentation will be finalized since he thought it was impressive and would be great to share with the rest of the disability community. He mentioned that ACB is extremely interested in this topic. Norie stated that the specification will be finalized within a month of receiving feedback which should occur shortly after MdQI. The draft specification has been included in the two open-ended contracts in Districts 3 and 4.

Doug Simmons asked what the anticipated timeframe to incorporate this specification into Contracts. Norie responded that it should occur within a month or so after MdQI and that a draft specification has already been included in the 2 area-wide contracts discussed earlier.

Neil asked if any SHA construction staff has seen this slideshow. Norie responded that no one else has seen this as it is not finalized. Pat restated that the presentation was impressive and that it would be great to share with the disability community. He was not aware of other states that are looking a construction-related accessibility issues.

Ben asked if any sanctions could be applied if these provisions are not followed in a Contract. Norie responded that SHA can withhold payment and demand that non compliant elements be fixed in order to receive payment. Ben further asked if a disincentive can be added to the specification. Norie stated that SHA can not impose penalties but can shut a project down under contract law. Doug asked if a liquidated damages clause could be added. Norie responded that this could be done for the displacement of pedestrians. Ben asked John Gaver and Marian if someone could file a complaint with the Department of Justice (DOJ) if compliance is not met. Marian stated that this route can always be taken but noted that it is not the most effective course of action.

Karen asked if the specification requires that the Contractor’s project trailer be ADA accessible. Norie responded that currently the specification does not require full accessibility for the Contractor’s or SHA’s trailer. Since the use of these trailers varies with the specifics of the project, it is currently looked at case by case.

If there are any additional questions or comments about the slideshow presented or the topic in general, please contact Norie Calvert at [email protected].

Additional Discussion Items

Pat asked for clarification about the APS program, specifically the time frame. He stated that Ed referred to a certain amount of APS being installed in a year; is that a calendar year or fiscal year. Harriet stated that SHA will follow-up with Pat via e-mail.

Ben stated that ADA affects all agencies within the State of Maryland ( MTA , WMATA, Maryland Transportation Authority (MdTA), County Departments of Public Works, Baltimore City and other local municipalities) and SHA is only one agency. He asked if SHA is sharing their ideas, knowledge and experience with these other agencies. Norie replied that most local municipalities have adopted SHA’s design standards. Harriet added that coordination with other agencies is just beginning due to the fact that SHA wanted to fully develop the processes prior to sharing. The important focus at this point is ADA awareness and spreading this through conferences and training. Richard suggested that a training class be offered at the Maryland Transportation Technology Transfer Center for the engineers at each county and local municipality. Doug made the point that once the counties receive federal funding, they must comply with federal standards. Craig added that since federal funds flow through SHA to the counties, SHA has the right to enforce that the counties comply. SHA is also starting to share information with other state agencies and is happy to share with the counties and local municipalities including the City of Baltimore .

Ben raised his concern over the lack of disability groups represented at Advisory Committee meetings. He recognizes that there are numerous names on the mailing list but feels that the meetings are dominated by SHA. Ben doesn’t feel that the full disability community is being represented. Linda agreed that there are not many groups represented at the meeting tonight but that everyone is kept up to date via e-mail. Linda also added that hopefully there will be more participation with the use of teleconferencing. John Gaver mentioned that there will be more participation at the county public meetings. Ben suggested that maybe this group could present information at an Alliance meeting. Linda stated that we will do that if it can be arranged to which Ben responded that Baltimore County meets every third Wednesday of the month. Neil stated that the key is that SHA has communication with the disability community and that we need to maintain that communication in whatever manner possible. Pat added that he has been contacted in the past six months from numerous groups representing blind people in regards to Maryland ’s standards on APS. This is showing that SHA’s work is reaching the targeted audience and beyond. Norie stated that it is great that SHA’s message and work is reaching the community but that there needs to be a vehicle to receive feedback and provide an open forum.

Pat suggested inviting representatives from Baltimore City to future Advisory Committee meetings as they are having problems with the installation of APS. Harriet responded that SHA is in the process of starting the coordination process but would like to wait until all transitions are made in the government due to the recent election.

Craig encouraged the representatives at this meeting to share all information presented with their respective groups and obtain feedback. Craig suggested that a permanent item be added to the beginning of the agenda as follow-up to discussions held during the previous meeting. This will allow time for the Committee members to discuss this information with the groups that they represent and provide more feedback to SHA.

Next Meeting / Follow-Up Items

The next quarterly meeting would occur in April 2007 but due to the fact that the County public meetings will have just started, the Committee may want to change the frequency of the meetings. Linda asked for comments and suggestions. Craig suggested that SHA present the Self-Evaluation results to the Committee prior to presenting at the County public meetings. Norie responded that we have the results in Excel and will shortly have the results available in a text document. Craig asked that these results be sent via e-mail in order to allow the Committee members a chance to provide feedback. Neil suggested that since Craig lives in Baltimore County , SHA present the information to him prior to the meeting. Craig agreed to this. Pat asked for the date of the Baltimore County public meeting. Harriet responded that this meeting is not yet scheduled but is anticipated to occur in March. Neil suggested that the focus for the next three months be on extra outreach to the disability community and the public meetings for Baltimore, Montgomery and Prince George ’s counties.

Doug suggested that the next meeting occur prior to Memorial Day. Harriet agreed and stated that any information that rises between now and the next meeting will be sent to the Committee via e-mail.


Linda asked Pat and Marian how the teleconferencing system worked for the meeting. Pat responded that it worked out great. Linda added that if there are any other comments or suggestions on the teleconferencing system, please e-mail those to her.

SHA Action Items

  • E-mail public meeting schedule as dates are available.
  • E-mail Pat Sheehan requested APS information.
  • E-mail self-evaluation results, by county, to Committee members in multiple formats.
  • Contact Leslie Sagato at MTA regarding talking signs.
  • Coordinate with Ben on scheduling a presentation at an upcoming Baltimore County Commission on Disabilities meeting.

Next Meeting Topics

  • Update on Public Meetings
  • Outreach plans for other agencies.
  • Feedback and experience on Maintenance of Accessible Pedestrian Traffic.
  • Ben suggested investigating TTY accessibility at rest stops and advertised businesses on the highways.
  • Pat suggested investigating the issue of quiet cars further. He recently attended a presentation, which he will forward on to SHA, on the topic and noticed that the vehicle manufacturers are not taking the lead on this issue. Craig suggested that if SHA handles this issue that MTA be involved as they just ordered a few hybrid buses.

Back to ADA Advisory Committee

ADA Home

 Print Decrease Text SizeReset Text SizeIncrease Text Size

You may also be interested in...

Minutes of Meeting - Octobe...
FHWA_Report_Jan_09_FINAL (P...
Minutes of Meeting - July 1...
More >>  
Maryland Department of Transportation


707 North Calvert Street Baltimore, Maryland 21202