Today, 28 years after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law, a significant number of property owners covered under this federal law continue to be sued for their failure to comply with the standards Accessible parking spaces seem uncomplicated, but they frequently trip up property owners who don’t realize that there’s more to parking spaces than just painting the International Symbol of Access on the ground.
Created in 1990 to ensure people with disabilities have fair and equal access to work and public spaces, ADA regulations were updated in 2010 and now encompass all minimum federal requirements for your parking lot to be deemed ADA compliant. The size, number of spaces, slope and marking of accessible spots vary depending on the overall size of the parking lot and number of spaces. Beyond federal regulations, your parking lot must also meet all current state regulations. Specific requirements often vary from state to state. In the state of Illinois, A U.S. Department of Transportation R7-8 (Reserved Parking) and a R7-I101 ($250 fine) sign must be mounted on a permanent post between 4 feet and 5 feet from the pavement. The post must be mounted in the center of the 16-foot wide accessible parking space, no more than five feet from the front of the parking space. There are additional sign regulations which were enacted in 2011 regarding the font and sizing of the characters on the signs, all of which can be found at www.ADA.gov.
What are the most common mistakes in new parking lot planning and construction? Without a doubt, aisle access to the building entrance is the biggest source of error. The parking space aisle has to be connected to an access route that leads to the entrance of the building without going into the path of traffic. This is a notorious problem in almost every facility, even new construction. Take a look at the big box stores in your area and see whether there’s a clearly defined access route leading from their accessible parking spaces to the front door. Usually, there is not.
Slope issues can plague the rest of the parking space too. Even if the parking spaces are the right dimension and correctly striped, many exceed the maximum slope of 1:48. That’s either because the grading wasn’t done well or because it’s very hard to level asphalt paving.
Often you find that catch basins and drains are installed near the stalls—exactly where you don’t want them—and there tends to be a steep slope toward the drain. Working with a knowledgeable paving company can make accessible parking lot requirements fairly straightforward and easy to install.
Not sure whether your existing parking lot is in compliance? Taking proactive steps now will help keep you ahead of that curve. If a comprehensive ADA evaluation of a parking lot has been completed in the past, that’s good. Now it’s time to take it off the shelf, and read it. Look for the inspection date.
If a comprehensive ADA evaluation of the parking lot has not been performed recently, this may be the time to do it. Having an outside paving professional perform the evaluation provides a second set of eyes and professional experience in ADA compliance.
Todd Eichholz is the owner of A&A Paving Contractors Inc. Since joining the company in 2013, Eichholz has spearheaded operational improvements to increase productivity, reduce costs and build a collaborative culture with clients. As a result, A&A Paving has grown three-fold in the last five years and was recently awarded The National Contractor of the Year in 2017 within the paving contractors industry.