Better Roads

October 2014

Better Roads Digital Magazine

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Better Roads October 2014 7 highways are altered, curb ramps be provided where street level pedes- trian walkways cross curbs. For decades, states, counties and municipalities should have "ADA plans" in place, thus have a program for providing curb ramps, in many cas- es installing curb ramps even without the trigger of pavement "alteration." Programs for curb reconstruction to provide curb cuts without associated pavement reconstruction has kept these agencies ahead in the game. During those same decades, the pavement preservation movement gathered steam, and now many pres- ervation programs are in place at all levels of government, with pavement inventories and condition databases used to program pres- ervation work. But, the new ADA guidance from inside the Beltway does not take the existing ADA plans into consider- ation, and the guidance creates contradictions in prioritiz- ing ADA work and pavement preservation programs. Preservation saves roads, money Proponents maintain that pavement preservation techniques are cost-effective and environmentally sustainable strate- gies that extend the life of pavements before they deterio- rate substantially. They add that pavement preservation is like changing the oil in your car, or painting your house: a smaller upfront investment avoids high future costs of reconstruction and rehabilitation. For roads, these techniques include preventive mainte- nance surface treatments such as slurry surfacings, crack sealing, chip sealing, micro surfacing, surface rejuvenation, hot and cold in-place recycling, thin-lift hot-mix asphalt paving, and concrete pavement restoration. Pavement preservation methods prolong pavement life, says the National Center for Pavement Preservation (NCPP), avoiding high future costs of reconstruction or rehabilita- tion through the expenditure of lesser amounts of money at critical points in a pavement's life. Experience shows that spending a dollar on pavement preservation can eliminate or delay spending $6 to $10 on future rehabilitation or reconstruction costs, NCPP says. Previously, pavement preservation treatments weren't considered road alterations that would trigger ADA require- ments. But following the new guidance released last year, under the ADA, some pavement preservation treatments now require costly accessibility features such as curb ramps be installed as part of the project, while other preservation treatments don't. Projects now deemed to be alterations must include curb ramps within the scope of a project. These include micro surfacing, thin-lift overlays, open-graded surface courses, cape seals, mill-and-overlays, and hot in-place recycling. Projects deemed to be maintenance, and exempt from curb ramps, include crack and joint filling and sealing, surface, chip, slurry, scrub and fog seals, concrete joint repairs and dowel bar retrofits, spot high-friction treatments, under- sealing, diamond grinding, and pavement patching. "This recent DOT/DOJ interpretation changing long- standing FHWA practices threatens to take away several cost effective maintenance 'tools' for government agencies," said FP 2 Inc. executive director Jim Moulthrop, P.E. "Our experi- ence is showing that the right treatment, for the right road, at the right time, is put at risk by the new ADA guidelines, which can even lead to no treatment if it's perceived that the Pictured is a regulation curb on a suburban street. An important part of this requirement is the obligation that whenever street, roadways or highways are altered, curb ramps be provided where street level pedes- trian walkways cross curbs. Photo courtesy of Tom Kuennen

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