Local Government Complete Streets Implementation Strategies

intersection, crosswalk, and sidewalk in DagsboroFacility Maintenance

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires all accessible public facilities to be maintained in operable working condition for use by individuals with disabilities.  Accessible designs are useless if public facilities have deficient maintenance practices that negatively affect safety, security, and/or mobility of persons of all ages and abilities.

Maintaining sidewalks, bikeways, multi-use paths, and trail systems is important to ensure:

  • Safety—to protect the public welfare, minimize user conflicts, and address dangerous conditions such as cracked or loose concrete, holes, step separation, depressions, tree root damage, vegetation overgrowth, other physical obstacles and/or the aftermath of inclement weather (e.g., an accumulation of snow and/or ice).  Local governments should develop a snow removal plan/policy document to address responsibilities, timeframes, and priorities for clearing pedestrian/bikeway infrastructure.
  • Universal access—to provide accessible facilities that are maintained to ADA standards
  • Multi-modal mobility—to recognize that maintenance of sidewalks, bikeways, multi-use paths, and trail systems is essential to the proper functioning of the overall transportation system.  The issue of maintenance on public transportation facilities also extends to roadway components such as crosswalks, intersections, and bus stops/transit stations that are used by pedestrians, bicyclists, and persons with disabilities.
  • Liability protection—to minimize hazardous conditions that may expose a local government to a potential lawsuit.
  • Safeguard of public assets—to provide routine maintenance, regular inspections of public facilities, and regularly scheduled repairs.  Maintenance strategies should be incorporated in the planning and design of new public facilities.  In addition, local governments should develop an overall preventive maintenance program to protect public investment, extend the useful life, and delay repairs of public facilities.  In addition to maintenance plans for existing facilities, strategies should be included in the planning and design of new public facilities.

In order to maintain passable sidewalk conditions, current and potential problems must be identified through an objective assessment process. IPA has developed a Healthy Communities: Walkability Assessment Tool, which is designed to help municipalities evaluate the walkability of areas within their jurisdiction and develop strategies to improve local pedestrian networks.