Background and History
Under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the City of El Paso is required to have a transition plan in place that addresses accessibility gaps in its existing facilities and services over a period of time until full compliance is reached.
In 1987, the Accessibility Advisory Committee was established to addresses accessibility concerns and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Committee also provides recommended resolutions to complaints alleging discrimination by the City based on disability.
In 1989, El Paso passed Ordinance # 9779, which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities by the City of El Paso and recipients of financial assistance.
In 1992, following the passage of ADA, the City undergoes a self-evaluation of all city-owned facilities and services.
An updated study was completed in 2002 and a subsequent evaluation was done by Magellan Assessment and Project Planning Systems (MAPPS) in 2006. This latter study was the basis for the latest transition plan which identities deficiencies in ADA compliance and actively seeks to remedy existing gaps in accessibility. Priorities were given to each needed repair/improvement based on health and safety criteria as well as community input.
In 2002, a self-evaluation of public right of way (Transportation Infrastructure) was completed known as the 'Martinez Study' and again in 2008 by Sun Metro. This study sought to identify transit locations that do not have adequate accessible routes, bus stop landings, curb cuts or otherwise an accessible route to/from Sun Metro facilities.
In 2008, the Streets Department also completed a study of citywide sidewalks and pedestrian pathways. This information was stored electronically in a GIS (Geographic Information System) to view, process and manage projects related to accessibility. It identifies gaps in sidewalks, sidewalk repairs and missing curb ramps. It included locations in subdivisions that were not required to install sidewalks because they were in rural areas, areas that were recently annexed by the City and in areas that were not yet developed.
In 2015, under the need to further enhance accessibility and a renewed effort to become more ADA-compliant, the city embarked on a new study of its facilities and services to accelerate the implementation of its transition plan.
In 2018, the City performed another self-assessment in order to find out to what extent we have accomplished our previous goals on what other gaps in compliance need to be addressed. It also aimed at evaluating all of the City’s programs and services in order to have a more complete view of the City’s accessibility inclusion efforts.
Results of self-assessment
The ADA assessment included:
- 257 Parks and related public spaces
- 159 Public buildings
- 2,757 Bus stops• Sidewalk, curb cut and audible pedestrian signal (APS) efforts for ADA compliance
- All services each department provides
- Citywide policies and procedures regarding ADA-compliance, monitoring and reporting.The results of the ADA assessment are broken into four categories:1. Positive ADA Compliance Elements: Those areas in which the City excels or performs well in terms of ADA compliance.
Immediate Improvements (short-term):
Areas identified in need of immediate improvement and the efforts are already in place to be in full compliance within a calendar year or shortly thereafter.
Additional Improvements (long-term):
These items will take a little longer and may require scheduled funding and other resources, but once completed, will allow our City to be 100% compliant.
These are the ongoing obstacles that the City will continue to face in the near future as it attempts to meet the ADA needs of our community. Positive ADA Compliance Elements
- Most of the city buildings are 100% accessible; only some presented minor issues ranging from parking spaces that needed improvements to some bathroom stalls that must meet all ADA requirements.
- Only 9% of the parks had minor issues dealing mostly with portions of sidewalks, ADA parking signage/striping and access to additional amenities.
- The City as a whole is very cognizant of the needs of citizens with disabilities and is very accommodating to requests for assistance to ensure equal access.
- The City follows a strict process for ADA compliance in all permitting and inspection reviews for new construction and renovations for City and private development projects
- 75% of all bus stops are accessible. 30% of the Sun Metro inaccessible bus stops have been addressed within the last 3 yrs.
- Extensive progress is being made on sidewalks and curb cuts through multiple city programs and projects.
- Continue to make all documentation available online accessible. Some of the documents are image-scanned and are not compatible with screen reader programs.
- Some information displayed or made available to the public in the form of flyers, applications, pamphlets, signage, etc. is in letter-format that is too small for those who are low-vision or legally blind. Update current policies to standardize all printed material as appropriate.
- Update internal standard operating procedures (SOP’s) that instruct employees and other staff members how to maintain service areas accessible and how to address concerns regarding possible ADA violations.
- Some departments do not have the ability to provide assistive listening devices to those who are hard of hearing – Equipment needs to be made available for all departments that need it.
- Continue to provide ADA sensitivity training to all new and existing employees. HR managers received the required ADA training to train their own departments.
- Maintain and track all ADA improvements to facilitate ADA compliance monitoring, citizen information requests and overall progress.
- Require all public video produced or distributed by the City to have closed captioning features.
- Ensure all museum, zoo, library and other public art and information exhibits are accessible to all disabilities.
- Continue to address all architectural barriers identified in our public facilities and parks.
- There are some areas throughout the City that are not sidewalk- or curb cut-ready; there are topographical and geographical issues as well as other reconstruction efforts that need to be addressed first (i.e. street construction, flooding, underground utilities, lack of right-of-way, etc.).
- Current levels of spending towards ADA-compliance cannot be guaranteed and will vary from year to year. New construction and reconstruction projects approved each year will vary depending on federal, state and local funding and other resources available.
- It is difficult to maintain an accurate inventory of all sidewalk gaps and missing curb cuts throughout the City:- Numerous capital projects being performed by the City- Private development- Commercial and residential owners/builders - Normal wear and tear of sidewalks and curb cuts- Traffic incidents that deteriorate pedestrian pathways
Cost Estimates and Timeline
The following cost estimates were derived from past expenditures or similar projects; however, no formal estimates were obtained. As such, they are to be used for planning purposes only.
Bus StopsInventory and CostsTotal number of bus stops available: 2,757
Fully Accessible stops: 2,044
Bus stop that need accessibility improvements: 713
Total cost to address remaining bus stops: $4,170,000
*Information as of Dec 2017
Sun Metro defines a bus stop as being inaccessible when both the bus stop landing and the nearest corner and sidewalk leading to the location are not accessible.
While the above estimates include the sidewalk and nearest intersection, there are times when other capital projects and programs also address those related areas. As such, the final cost and timeline may vary.
Timeline Annual bus stop enhancement schedule utilizing Sun Metro’s currently allocated funds:
Year and Number of Stops
Facilities and Parks – Architectural Barriers
Inventory and CostsNumber of facilities that need improvements (out of 154): 38
Number of parks that need improvements (out of 253): 21
Estimated cost to address public building ADA improvements: $406,250
Estimated cost to address park ADA improvements: $163,800
Total Cost of Improvements: $570,050
*Information as of January 2018
Note:No separate funding source needs to be allocated for these improvements as many of them fall under each department’s normal operating and maintenance budgets.
Those items that do have an allocated budget, will begin to be addressed under the City’s annual ADA Accessibility Program (currently known as the Sidewalk on-demand request program).
Annual facility and park architectural barrier improvement schedule.
Pedestrian Rights-of-Way Architectural Barriers(Sidewalks, curb cuts and pedestrian audible signals)Under Title II of the ADA, a City is not necessarily required to construct curb ramps at every point where a sidewalk intersects, install sidewalks in every area of the City or incorporate an audible pedestrian signal at every intersection.
Instead, a City is obligated to make its services accessible to everyone, regardless of someone’s disability. As a result, there may be areas not 100% completed with curb cuts, sidewalks and an APS at every intersection but the services would be deemed accessible if everyone is able to get to them, even if individuals need only travel a marginally longer route. This does not mean that the City will not attempt to continue to remove all architectural barriers, but it merely points to the overall objective of making our services accessible rather than making sure every corner has a curb ramp or every street has sidewalks on both sides.
The City will prioritize public rights-of-way projects (PROW) in the following order as required by ADA:
- Government offices and facilities
- Bus stop and transportation facilities
- Places of public accommodation such as commercial and business areas
- Facilities containing employers
- Other areas such as residential neighborhoods and underdeveloped regions of the City.Note: Areas that create an unsafe or hazardous condition may have higher priority over other criteria.
Current programs and related expenditures that address public pedestrian barriers (previous three fiscal years):
Street Resurfacing - $2,000,000
Street Reconstruction - $2,500,000
Unpaved Alley Program - $135,000
Sidewalk Gap Program - $1,500,000
Sun Metro Bus Stop Enhancements - $2,000,000
Pedestrian Audible Signals (APS) - $775,440
Sidewalk on-demand request service - $750,000
Average annual expenditure on ADA improvements: $3,2220,133
Note: This amount does not include the numerous capital projects that also include ADA improvements. These projects and related ADA expenditures vary from year to year.
Moving forward, this amount may change depending on budget and economic conditions, but the City will attempt to spend as much on ADA improvements as resources allow.Additionally, during fiscal years 2018-2022, there is an additional $3,000,000 allocated to pedestrian construction improvements related Sun Metro’s Brio projects.
The above projects and corresponding expenditures are currently addressing and meeting the needs of our community to make the City’s services and programs as accessible as possible.