ODOT should review all projects granted an ADA exception

HASL Center for Independent Living in Grants Pass created this video.

Historical Exceptions to ADA

In a letter to the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) , we recommend ways in which the agency could improve their process for evaluating and approving requests for historical exceptions to the ADA. ODOT’s existing process does not require engineers to justify a conclusion that historical preservation overrules any changes to improve accessibility.

We think the agency should review all projects that were granted a historical exception to the ADA, whether ongoing or completed, and put in place a more rigorous process before granting future exceptions.

Read our letter.

ADA Requirements

Under the ADA — a landmark civil rights law that went into effect 27 years ago — whenever the state makes alterations to a historic public facility, like a bridge, it should be made accessible “to the maximum extent feasible” consistent with the regulations.

The historical exception process to the ADA permits some limited exemptions from the requirements. The goal is to retain historical features, while providing accessible routes for pedestrians.

Caveman Bridge spanning Rogue River

Caveman Bridge, Grants Pass

We requested a more rigorous process for granting exceptions to the ADA after ODOT reversed course and agreed to make a historic Grants Pass bridge more accessible to pedestrians.

Last year, ODOT began work on major renovations of a Grants Pass landmark, the Caveman Bridge. The bridge opened in 1931 as a gateway to California’s Redwood Empire, which attracts tourists from across the world. The bridge is among a dozen Oregon bridges designed by engineer Conde McCollough and prized for their architectural beauty.

Local disability rights advocates and members of the Grants Pass City Council unsuccessfully urged ODOT to widen the pedestrian routes on the urban bridge so that people who use wheelchairs no longer had to endure squeezing through the walkway and risk scraping their knuckles or bumping their elbows.

The bridge — one of only three pedestrian routes across the Rogue River in the entire town of Grants Pass — provides an essential service to people living in the community. ODOT agreed to make the bridge more accessible to pedestrians — great news for residents and visitors who experience mobility issues or use a wheelchair.

Accessibility Complaints

—Tell us about any ODOT projects in your community that you’re concerned are not following ADA guidelines by filling out this form.

—Report problems with access to ODOT by using this form: “ADA Accessibility Requests” complaint form on ODOT’s website.


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