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Access board will propose ADA trail guidelines eventually

See comparison of the proposed trail guidelines (FSTAG) with draft ADA guidelines (RegNeg)
Also see Comments on proposed USFS Trail Accessibility Guidelines by American Hiking Society

From the Access Board, Washington, DC - January 2005

Update (October 22, 2005): Bill Botten of the Access Board told the State Trail Administrators Meeting in Wilmington, DE that it could be another two years before the guidelines are published in the Federal Register for public comment.

The Access Board plans to propose new guidelines for outdoor developed areas, including trails, beach access routes, and picnic and camping sites. The guidelines will be responsive to the need for greater guidance in this area since issues of terrain and limited levels of site development have raised many questions on how, and to what extent, access is to be achieved. The upcoming proposal will focus specifically on outdoor developed areas owned or managed by the Federal government. Once published, it will be available for public comment.

The proposed guidelines will include detailed criteria for newly constructed and altered trails that will cover running slope or grade, cross slope, width, surface, passing space, edge protection, and signs. Provisions will also address beach access routes and elements of picnic and camping sites, including picnic tables, fire rings, cooking surfaces and grills. The specifications will be based on consensus recommendations from an advisory body the Board had previously chartered, the Outdoor Developed Areas Regulatory Negotiation Committee.

In developing new guidelines, the Board typically must complete a comprehensive assessment of their estimated costs and impacts. This necessary step can be challenging in rulemaking that breaks new ground by covering access to areas not previously addressed by an accessibility guideline or standard. This has been especially true in the case of guidelines for outdoor developed areas, which have been delayed due to work involved on completing a cost assessment. Determining the number and range of outdoor sites across the country that would be impacted by new guidelines when developed or redeveloped has been particularly challenging.

In order to keep the process on track while assessment of the cost proceeds, the Board has opted to conduct rulemaking specifically in relation to Federal lands, such as national parks. The upcoming proposal will specifically address access to sites covered by the Architectural Barriers Act, which requires access to federally funded facilities. The associated cost assessment can be completed more readily since the area of coverage is more distinct and identifiable and since Federal agencies responsible for public lands have greatly increased their data collection and management procedures over the past couple years.

The Board intends to build on this work with a follow up rulemaking devoted to non-Federal sites owned or operated by state and local governments or private entities subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Information collected during and through the rulemaking on Federal lands will be used to advance the follow-up effort on ADA-covered sites. For further information, contact Bill Botten at (202) 272-0014 (v), (202) 272-0082 (TTY), or (e-mail).

October 22, 2005

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