A Guide on ADA-Compliant Curb and Entrance Ramps for Commercial Property

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It’s important that all commercial properties are aware of and adhere to regulations as they relate to accommodating disabled Americans. To that end, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has created accessibility standards to which businesses and other public areas must comply.

This means whenever a new concrete construction or repair project is on your calendar, knowing the guidelines you must follow to meet ADA regulations and standards in advance will save you both money and time. A thorough overview of what the ADA requires concerning curb and entrance ramps is in order. With guidelines plainly delineated, you need not worry that your plans won’t meet approval by local ordinances.

Defining Curb and Entrance Ramps

The ADA, part of the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice, was formulated to ensure all Americans, regardless of their physical condition or limitations, have safe and easy access to businesses, governmental offices, and other public areas without undue struggle or difficulty. This includes creating accessible routes for individuals relying upon wheelchairs, walkers, scooters, or other mobility devices from streets and back onto raised (and safe) sidewalks.

While it may seem obvious, if everyone works within the same framework, curb and entrance ramps can be placed at commercial property locations under the highest of standards.

By definition, a curb ramp is either a short ramp which cuts through a curb and grades up to the sidewalk level or curb top. An entrance ramp performs the same function, except it applies to entering and exiting facilities such as businesses and government offices.

The parts of a curb (or entrance) ramp include:

  • Ramp – also called the ramp run, this is the sloped section which ascends and descends from one level to another
  • Transitions – located at top and bottom of the ramp, this is where the ramp levels out again
  • Flares – are on the sides (also referred to as flare sides) of the ramp and grades at an angle up to the sidewalk
  • Gutter – as with any street and sidewalk, the gutter is the roadway surface lying immediately next to the curb of the sidewalk

The other alternative to curb and entrance ramps are elevators or platform/chair lifts, but these methods require electric power and are expensive, cumbersome, and less efficient for many disabled persons. 

Now that we have these simple yet important definitions covered, let’s examine the requirements which you, as a commercial property owner, must be fully aware. 

Curb and Entrance Ramp Requirements

Not every bump and imperfection on roadways and entries requires the installation of ramps.

For instance, suppose a store installs a small ridge across an entryway to discourage shoppers from charging into the store too fast with shopping carts. As long as such a speed bump is lower than 1/2 inch tall, it is considered accessible for those people using mobility devices like wheelchairs and walkers and no ramps are required.

This is an extremely important measurement to know, installing speed bumps that require ramps may defeat the very purpose of that installation.

Another important consideration is accessibility routes which are on a slope. In such a case, you need to know how to calculate the slope percentage to make sure you meet the requirements.

ADA-Compliant Curb and Entrance Ramps for Commercial Property: A Guide

If such a slope is greater than 5%, it will fall under the ADA ramp guidelines and an accessibility ramp will need to be installed. The reasoning is logical, as steep declines are difficult, if not impossible, to manage using most mobility devices.

Slope Percentages and Ratios

If you wonder what a 5% slope means, a simple illustration would be a five-foot vertical rise over a 100-foot distance. Such a slope is considered ideal for cycling in hills and mountains. In comparison, a 10% slope would rise twice as high in the same distance, making it much steeper.

Another measurement you will encounter are slope ratios. An example would be a 1:10 maximum ratio, with a 6-inch maximum rise. This would mean for every one inch of rise, at least 10 inches of ramp is required.  The ramp could also not be longer than 60 inches, as the ramp cannot rise higher than 6 inches from start to finish.  

ADA Curb Cut Dimension Requirements

As of 2020, the ADA requirements for curb cut dimensions are as follows:

  • Clearance Width – if handrails are used (or required), there must be a minimum clearance of 36 inches in between the leading edges of the handrails
  • Rise – the ramp cannot rise greater than 30 inches per run (a run is from base to top of a ramp)
  • Running Slope – the running slope is the direction people travel when heading up or down the ramp run; the maximum slope is 1:12 (or one foot change in elevation every 12 feet of ramp) 
  • Cross Slope – this measures the width of the level top of the ramp and has a maximum slope of 1:48 (no more than one foot elevation change every 48 feet; very little sloping)  
  • Alterations – where new constructions or repairs alter the current street configurations, additional curb ramps are required for:
    • 1:10 maximum slope, no more than 6 inches rise
    • 1:8 maximum slope, no more than 3 inches rise

The above list provides you with the main and general guidelines for curb and entrance ramps, but there are other requirements which you should know.

Landings 

You find the landings at the top and bottom of ramps, or between sections of multiple ramps. To allow for sufficient maneuvering, single ramps must be at least 60 inches long and 36 inches wide. Additionally, they must be quite level, with a maximum 1:48 slope.

You should plan on a minimum clear width of 60 by 60 inches for all intermediate landings, as they require more space for the run. Also, if a landing leads to an entrance, the door should open away from the landing.

Detectable Warning Standards

Certain ADA-designated spaces require the inclusion of tactile warnings. We have all seen (and felt them); they are the cluster of raised domes which make for a bumpier ride or wobbly feel under your feet. You find them at all public transportation locations, as they offer a tactile warning when a person is near public vehicles in operation and motion. 

As seeing-impaired persons also rely on ramps, this is an especially important feature which warns such people of potential cross traffic in front of them.  Some states impose additional regulations, such as colors and even dimensions of the domes used for tactile warning surfaces.

Limitless Paving & Concrete: ADA Compliance Experts

While this guide to ADA compliance as it relates to curb and entrance ramps provides you with a solid overview, you are always best served by working with a business with expert knowledge of and extensive experience with installing ADA-compliant ramps at important curb locations and entrances. At Limitless Paving & Concrete, this is just one of the many fields of expertise in which we excel.

If you want professional guidance to the best curb and entrance ramp installation for your own operation, try our free consultation and quote! Contact us today. We will make sure that your business not only looks great but passes all ADA regulations with flying colors!

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