HARRISBURG – PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards yesterday joined Labor & Industry Executive Director for the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation David DeNotaris, and the Statewide Independent Living Council to celebrate Pennsylvania’s progress in transportation accessibility in the 25 years since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted.
Richards and the event participants highlighted how the state has implemented the law’s standards to allow persons with disabilities to lead more independent, productive lives.
“Pennsylvania has come a long way in ensuring our transportation systems and facilities work for our citizens no matter who they are or how they travel,” Richards said.
“Transportation is a critical link among people, the economy and their lives, and PennDOT is committed to continuing to improving connections among all modes and transportation users.”
To commemorate the anniversary, PennDOT developed a booklet, viewable at www.dot.state.pa.us under “Multimodal Transportation,” noting the state’s efforts in accessibility after the law passed.
The booklet features examples of improvements in pedestrian facilities, transit vehicles and centers, passenger rail, driver and vehicle service facilities and Welcome Centers, such as:
- All fixed route bus fleets in Pennsylvania are 100 percent ADA-accessible, and as bus stations and transit centers are upgraded they are designed to ADA standards.
- Seniors age 65 and older and persons with disabilities ages 18-64 use shared-ride, curb-to-curb paratransit service and receive an 85 percent discount on fares.
- The approximately 100,000 curb ramps on state routes should all be ADA-compliant within the next 15 years.
- PennDOT driver-license staff are trained on testing drivers with disabilities, who may use hand controls or other adaptive equipment to safely operate a motor vehicle.
- PennDOT launched the Keystone Corridor Improvement Program in 2009, through which train stations from Harrisburg to Philadelphia are being upgraded to accessible facilities.
DeNotaris noted that accessible transportation is imperative for persons with disabilities.
“PennDOT and the ADA are helping to make the world more accessible for people with disabilities,” DeNotaris said.
“One of the biggest barriers to employment for people with disabilities is transportation and when people – all people – have access to public transportation, paratransit, curb ramps, we provide a safe, vital component for employment and independence.”
A representative from the Statewide Independent Living Council also took part in the event.
Additionally, Richards announced that accessibility for persons with disabilities, pedestrians and bicyclists near the Capitol Complex in Harrisburg will be improved through a $2.2 million project beginning this summer. Expected to begin in mid-to-late August, the project will reduce vehicle speeds and increase pedestrian visibility on Commonwealth Avenue between Forster Street and Walnut Street; North Street between Commonwealth Avenue and Third Street; Third Street in front of the Capitol steps and Aberdeen Street from Walnut Street to the Harrisburg Transportation Center.
Improvements include raised pedestrian crosswalks at frequent mid-block crossing locations along Commonwealth Avenue and North Street; reduced pedestrian crossing distances through the use of curb bulb-outs at key intersections; a raised intersection at North Street and Commonwealth Avenue; and improved signage and pavement markings, including a bicycle lane on North Street.
“Ensuring that anyone – regardless of his or her abilities or mode of travel – can safely navigate the Capitol Complex is a must,” Richards said.
“These improvements will not only increase safety for all travelers, but also provide a connection to the transportation center that will benefit commuters and Capitol visitors alike.”
The project is expected to continue for approximately 10 months, with the majority of improvements completed by the end of the 2015 construction season.