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A vibrant Seattle through transportation excellence Interim Director, Goran Sparrman

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Curb Ramps

Side view of pedestrian curb ramp
Frontal view of pedestrian curb ramp

The SDOT pedestrian program installs curb ramps (also known as wheelchair ramps) at intersections to create a barrier-free environment for everyone when crossing streets that have curbs and sidewalks.

SDOT installs curb ramps following federal accessibility guidelines established by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under current standards, curb ramps are required to be wholly contained within a marked crosswalk and must include detectable warnings so that pedestrians can easily determine the boundary between the sidewalk and the street.

The standard design requirement for detectable warnings on curb ramps is known as a "truncated dome." Truncated domes are small, flattened domes that provide a surface that is distinguishable underfoot and by cane, and they are closely spaced so that pedestrians can maintain stability. The color of the domes also contrasts with the surrounding pedestrian ramp to provide a visual cue for low-vision pedestrians.

As you walk around Seattle, however, you may see different styles of curb ramps. These differences reflect changes in the federal guidelines over the years. Some older curb ramps, for example, are located outside of the crosswalk area and may not have the truncated domes. The ADA Accessibility Guidelines, however, require that municipalities and states bring any projects that involve alterations to existing ramps up to the current standards. As a result, these curb ramps will be increasingly less common over time.

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) will install curb ramps as soon as funding allows when requested by qualified individuals with disabilities at locations not otherwise scheduled for improvement. For example, SDOT is currently working to construct new curb ramps at the intersection of Lake City Way NE and NE 145th Street and near 50th Avenue S and S Ferdinand Street.

The program is not intended to address community concerns other than access for people with disabilities. Based on current funding it may take up to three years from the approval date for curb ramps to be installed.

Click here for more ADA information and to make a curb ramp request

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