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Accessible Temporary Routes Provide Safe Pathways

Seattle is one of the fastest growing cities in the country, and there seems to be no shortage of construction projects as we continue to grow. It’s important for us all to remember to keep our pedestrian network accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities. Even temporary routes around construction zones, in cases where a portion of the sidewalk may be occupied by construction equipment or materials, need to be usable by all.

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SDOT requires that these temporary routes be accessible and usable to all, including people with mobility or visual disabilities. A few of the key components to consider when providing an accessible temporary route are:

  • The route must be at least 4’ wide to provide adequate width for mobility devices (wheelchairs, scooters, etc.).
  • If the detoured route crosses a curb down to the street or if there is a similar level change, a ramp needs to be provided to allow mobility devices to get up or down and around the obstacle.
  • There should be a consistent and stable detectable edge at the base of the route to provide people with visual impairments the ability to find their way while sweeping with a cane.
  • There should be a solid barrier between the pedestrian route and the construction zone.
  • There must be adequate headroom above, so that tall pedestrians with visual impairments are not in danger of hitting their head on any low hanging obstructions.


These are not the only concerns, but key topics when considering accessibility. There are, of course, other considerations as well, for example – the need to keep pedestrians visible and safe from vehicular traffic and any construction activity. Closing a sidewalk or a street crossing is never ideal, but sometimes it may be necessary.  If this is necessary, proper signage is a must.

Closing the Sidewalk is the last resort

Closing sidewalks is a last resort

Examples of Accessible Temporary Routes

SDOT is currently proposing a revised Director’s Rule for Pedestrian Mobility in and Around Work Zones (DR 10-2015) and accessibility will certainly be a significant component of that rule. Below are examples of temporary routes around construction zones that have addressed accessibility concerns.

Sturdy barricades positioned to provide adequate width for mobility devices

Sturdy barricades positioned to provide adequate width for mobility devices

Temporary Asphalt Ramps provide Access around New Curb Ramp construction

Temporary asphalt ramps provide access around new curb ramp construction

Low Wood Boards can provide detection for Visually Impaired Pedestrians

Low wood boards can provide detection for visually impaired pedestrians

Scaffolding constructed to provide adequate headroom

Scaffolding constructed to provide adequate headroom

If you have any questions about accessibility within the Seattle public right-of-way, we encourage you contact SDOT’s ADA Coordinator, Michael Shaw at (206) 615-1974 or by email at