El Paso County commissioners this week approved a new deal with the Colorado Department of Transportation that seeks to bring Pikes Peak region thoroughfares into compliance with a federal law mandating public facilities be made equally accessible to those with disabilities.
The intergovernmental agreement approved by commissioners Tuesday authorizes county and state transportation officials to create a plan that will identify priority projects to upgrade county infrastructure like curb ramps, sidewalks, striping and traffic signals to make them compliant with the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.
“This agreement is important because everyone in our community needs and deserves the same access through area infrastructure,” El Paso County Public Works Executive Director Kevin Mastin said by email. “The agreement and the future development of the ADA compliance plan will help ensure mobility and access for all of our citizens.”
It could take about 18 months to develop the plan, which will be made publicly available, county spokesman Ryan Parsell said.
The agreement is another step in recent efforts the county has taken to bring public spaces in line with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Parsell said.
In 2020, the county updated its engineering criteria manual with current standards and adopted the Public Rights-of-Way-Accessibility Guideline — guidelines for physical access on public roads, sidewalks and shared-use paths, meeting documents show.
In late 2019, El Paso County also approved its “transition plan,” a document all local governments with 50 or more employees were required to complete by early January 1993 under the federal law.
El Paso County lags in disability compliance for two reasons, Parsell said.
The first, what he called “legacy developments,” mean the county must update infrastructure developed prior to 1990 because it wouldn’t have been built to federal standards.
“Part of this whole process is really identifying the developments that need these upgrades and work to bring them into compliance,” Parsell said.
Funding is another roadblock, as the county faces hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of unmet road and infrastructure needs.
“There is certainly a lot of need, but we really do feel it’s important that everyone in the county should have access to public spaces,” Parsell said. “This impacts a person’s day-to-day life.”
The roughly $3.1 million intergovernmental agreement commissioners approved Tuesday will fund creation of the compliance plan, he said. Any remaining cash could be used for construction as well.
The money comes from federal and local sources, according to a draft resolution approving the agreement.