Dakota County is taking steps to make its highway system accessible for people with disabilities, bringing miles of roadways, sidewalks and trails into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
County officials have completed a six-month-long assessment of the county highway system, and will gather public input before putting together a draft plan to resolve deficiencies.
This is the first time that Dakota County has done an accessibility assessment of its county highway rights of way, said senior planner Scott Peters. Members of the public will have opportunities to comment on the county’s accessibility plan at three open houses scheduled for November.
The ADA, which became law in 1990, requires public facilities and programs to meet accessibility requirements. Cities, counties and states must self-assess and develop individual plans to make public places accessible for people with special mobility issues.
Current federal guidelines for public rights of way — which, for the first time, include information on trails — were issued in 2011.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation assesses its system annually, tying updates to other pavement work, said Kristie Billiar, ADA implementation coordinator at MnDOT.
“We go back and take a look at what we did in our previous construction season,” Billiar said. “It’s always off by a year, but we’re constantly updating it so you know what has been done.”
Dakota County will upgrade its system in a similar way. The county is already updating noncompliant facilities in tandem with other projects, Peters said.
“If we go out and put new pavement on a roadway, at that time we’ll also install new curb ramps at the intersections to replace old ones that are not compliant,” he said.