Sidewalks getting ADA scrutiny

Do sidewalks in Pierce County meet handicap-accessible requirements? That’s the question county officials are answering with the public’s help.
The community was invited to public meetings in November in Spanaway, Puyallup and Tacoma that county officials hosted as part of an effort to bring pedestrian facilities located in public right-of-way in unincorporated areas of the county into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Citizens were asked for feedback on which types of issues pose the biggest impact to accessibility, such as obstructions in the sidewalk or steep ramps, and which locations are most important for the public to be able to reach without barriers to accessibility, such as schools, libraries and shopping centers.
“This is an opportunity for our community to share their input on bringing existing pedestrian facilities into ADA compliance,” said Brian Stacy, Public Works and Utilities county engineer. “We will then develop a transition plan that will help us prioritize future projects to bring the facilities into compliance.”
In addition to community input, the county will use ADA guidelines and standards to identify project locations with the highest need, a spokeswoman said. The plan will guide the county when scheduling projects and requesting and allocating funding to complete the project list.
Ultimately, all existing pedestrian facilities must be brought into compliance with ADA. The plan won’t address expanding existing pedestrian facilities or building facilities in new areas, officials said.
Pierce County has spent the past year assessing sidewalks, curb ramps, pedestrian crossings, and traffic signal systems for their compliance with the ADA. Preliminary findings and an online survey are available at
According to AARP and other sources, a pedestrian dies in a traffic accident every two hours in the U.S., and 21 percent of the casualties are people 65 years old or older.
Between 2003 and 2012, crashes killed 47,025 pedestrians nationwide and injured another 676,000.
In Washington alone, 678 deaths were reported. Of those, 196 were in the 65-and-over age range.
According to AARP, older adults in Washington represent a disproportionate number of pedestrian deaths. While they comprise 11.7 percent of the state’s population, seniors 65 and older accounted for 26 percent of pedestrian fatalities statewide in 2003-10.