# 90 III-7.4200 DJ 202-PL-254 Robert L. Duston Schmeltzer, Aptaker & Shepard, P.C. 2600 Virginia Avenue, N.W.

Suite 1000 Washington, D.C. 20037-1905 Dear Mr. Duston: I am writing in response to your July 17, 1992, letter on behalf of your client, the International Mass Retail Association (IMRA), concerning the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This letter also responds to the issues raised in our meeting of September 9, 1992. I regret the delay in responding to your inquiries. The ADA authorizes the Department of Justice to provide technical assistance to individuals and entities having rights or obligations under the Act. This letter provides informal guidance to assist you in understanding the ADA's requirements; however, it does not constitute a legal interpretation and it is not binding on the Department. Your letter poses four hypothetical problems representative of the concerns of IMRA in the design and construction of various types of shopping malls and commercial complexes. In the first two examples, facilities are located some distance from public roads and persons visiting the facilities park in parking lots adjacent to the facilities. In the third example, two facilities are built on the same property and are separated by a shared parking lot. In the fourth example, several unrelated commercial facilities are built in leased spaces on a parcel of land under common ownership. As we discussed in our September 9, 1992, meeting, each of your examples questions the need for various forms of an "accessible route," as defined in section 4.3 of the Standards for Accessible Design (Standards), found at Appendix A to the Department of Justice's regulation implementing title III of the ADA. June 17, 1993

In general, the Standards require that an accessible route must connect accessible public transportation stops, parking spaces, passenger loading zones, and public streets or sidewalks to an accessible building entrance and that the accessible route must coincide "to the maximum extent feasible" with the route for the general public. 4.3.2(1). Also, in general, accessible buildings, facilities, elements, and spaces that are on the same site must be connected by an accessible route. 4.3.2(2). The ADA, however, does not require the provision of an accessible route in cases where there is no pedestrian route for the general public. For example, the Standards would not require that a developer provide an accessible route between an accessible entrance to a retail store and a major highway bordering the site, if customers only have access to the store by driving to the parking lot. Similarly, where multiple accessible facilities are built on the same site, an accessible route between the facilities will be required only where a pedestrian route for the general public exists between the multiple facilities or where pedestrians typically walk between the facilities. Whether a route for the general public exists within a site depends upon the unique characteristics of the site, including its geography and proximity to public transportation stops. Factors such as the presence of sidewalks, crosswalks, or significant pedestrian flow along a particular route should also be considered in determining whether a route for the general public exists. Creation of special accessible routes along paths not available to the general public is not required. Because barrier removal under the ADA is a continuing obligation, an accessible route may need to be provided at a later date, if a route for the general public develops or is created, and the provision of an accessible route is readily achievable. For instance, if a new bus stop is established near a site, an accessible route may have to be provided if pedestrians commonly walk between the new bus stop and the entrance to the facility. Similarly, if a sidewalk or walkway is provided between the facility and the new bus stop, an accessible route may be required. Your letter recommends the establishment of a guideline that no accessible route should be required to be longer than onequarter mile. We believe, however, that an arbitrary limitation of this nature would be inconsistent with the ADA. Where a

pedestrian route for the general public exists, the ADA Standards for Accessible Design require the provision of an accessible route regardless of length. I have enclosed a copy of the Department's regulation implementing title III and the Department's title III Technical Assistance Manual. I hope this information is useful to you. Sincerely,

John Wodatch Chief Public Access Section Enclosures Title III regulation Title III Technical Assistance Manual