Accessibility Policy & Guidelines for
Pedestrian Facilities along State Highways
December 2005


SHA’s goal for sidewalk construction is to make continuous connections to existing sidewalks, schools, rail transit stations, bus stops, and other pedestrian destinations. Sidewalks shall be designed to serve all pedestrians, including those with disabilities. Sidewalks shall be designed to provide a smooth, clear and predictable accessible route. Sudden changes in grade or direction, steep cross slopes, unexpected obstacles, drop-offs, narrow pathways and close traffic are all potential hazards. With consideration given to accepted guidelines, SHA will seek to achieve the following in implementation for sidewalk design:

  • The minimum width for travel shall be 60”- not including the top of curb dimension. The basis for utilizing less then 60” must be related to physical constraints or right-of-way limitations. A design waiver must be submitted where these conditions cannot be met. When a design waiver is submitted, the absolute minimum width for travel that will be accepted is 36” – not including the top of curb dimension. This minimum represents the width of a wheelchair plus maneuvering room. (This does not include pinch point exceptions which are addressed under Protruding Objects). A design waiver will be required where the sidewalk is less then 60”.
  • Where the sidewalk is placed on a bridge or a large culvert, the minimum width for travel shall be 68” – where there is no separately poured and formed curb and/or gutter. A design waiver must be submitted where these conditions cannot be met.
  • If the width for travel is less than 60”, then use of a passing zone (60” width by 60” length) is required. Passing zones shall be provided at an interval no greater than 200’. Use of driveways and leader walks (walks from residence to street) as passing zones is acceptable as long as cross slope requirements are still met.
  • Sidewalk running slope for sidewalk adjacent to existing and reconstructed roadways shall not be limited. (AASHTO recommends that sidewalk running slope be consistent with running grade of adjacent roadways.)
  • Where conditions and right of way allow, sidewalks may be separated from the roadway to make grade adjustments possible.
  • Sidewalk cross-slope shall be a maximum 2%, including crossings of driveways or entrances. The designer shall consider use of special details in lieu of standards where necessary to meet this requirement.
  • Construction tolerances of new sidewalk cross slopes ± 1%.
  • Sidewalk must be constructed of a uniform material for the entire 60” width.
  • Vertical elevation differences between adjacent surfaces (this includes special sidewalk treatments, such as brick pavers) shall not exceed ¼”. Elevation differences between ¼” and ½” shall be beveled at maximum 2:1 slope.

Whenever feasible, sidewalks shall be separated from the back of curb by a green space/planting/utility strip. This area can be used for signs and utility poles and provides pedestrians with a greater sense of safety from traffic. This strip shall be continuous along the sidewalk, a minimum of 3 feet wide and can be grassed, brick or patterned concrete. The presence of sidewalk at an intersection implies that a crosswalk exists, whether it is marked or not. In certain cases, it is determined for safety reasons not to allow pedestrian crossings at one or more legs of an intersection. The designer needs to be aware of these situations and coordinate directly with District Traffic and the Traffic Engineering Design Division. When this occurs, the sidewalk shall be physically separated from that leg. This shall be accomplished by providing a physical barrier or planting strip between the sidewalk and curb.

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