# 188

II-5.3000 II-6.0000 II-6.6000

April 3, 1996

The Honorable Robert S. Walker U.S. House of Representatives 2369 Rayburn Building Washington, D.C. 20515-3816 Dear Congressman Walker: Your letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation on behalf of your constituent, Ms. XXXXXXXXXXXXXX, regarding the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for curb ramps and sidewalks at public streets and intersections, was forwarded to me for comment. Ms. XXXXXX has questioned decisions by North Coventry Township, Pennsylvania, to install curb ramps leading from public streets to impassable areas where there are no sidewalks. According to your letter, officials of North Coventry Township claim that these actions are mandated by title II of the ADA. Title II of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by State and local government entities. When public entities build new facilities or alter existing facilities, the Department of Justice's regulation implementing title II (enclosed) requires that the newly constructed or altered areas be made accessible to individuals with disabilities. The regulation specifically provides that new construction of or alterations to streets give rise to accessibility obligations for curb ramps. 28 C.F.R. 35.151(e). Therefore, if the North Coventry Township were constructing a new street or intersection or were altering an existing street or intersection, it may be required to provide accessible curb ramps or ramps where pedestrian walkways that are elevated or curbed intersect with the new or altered street or intersection. 28 C.F.R. ​ 35.151(e)(1). Notably, resurfacing of streets gives rise to

these obligations, as resurfacing is considered to be an alteration within the meaning of the ADA. See Kinney v. Yerusalim, 9 F.3d 1067 (3d Cir. 1993). In addition, if North Coventry Township were building or altering a pedestrian walkway, it may be required to provide curb ramps or ramps as needed where the walkway intersects streets or intersections. 28 C.F.R. ​ 35.151(e)(2). However, the new construction and alterations provisions of title II do not require installation of ramps or curb ramps in the absence of a pedestrian walkway. Nor are they required in the absence of a curb, elevation, or other barrier between the street and the walkway. Therefore, curb ramps or ramps leading to vacant grass lots are not required by the ADA. Of course, the ADA does not prohibit North Coventry Township from exceeding the requirements of the ADA. Nor does it limit the State's discretion to provide new pedestrian walkways and ramps as it sees fit to serve interests in addition to accessibility. I hope this information is helpful to you in responding to your constituent. Sincerely,

Deval L. Patrick Assistant Attorney General Civil Rights Division Enclosure