Closing Sidewalks for Work Zones
Frans asked: Recently a lot of construction has been going on around my town. First thing they do close of sidewalk. (No access period) and side strips. So a long stretch of 41 is being redone. The above is in place making it pretty much no walk or bike access unless of course you wanna get killed. (Two lanes 45 miles plus heavy traffic). To get past this about 3 mile stretch requires at least a 6 plus extra mile detour. Next road closure out of my sub division. No bike or pedestrian through put either.
This is blocking many seniors and disabled people in getting right to the other side, a low income health clinic and senior support center. Many people do not have a car, AKA walk or trike. Going around is about 2.8 miles in other words a 5.5 mile round trip!
What are the regulations and requirements when a sidewalk gets closed. Does the city or county have to provide a reasonable alternative? And if so what are these?
I am not aware of any statutes that address bicycle and pedestrian access in work zones, but FDOT documents require that accommodation be provided for pedestrians and bicyclists in work zones.
2015 FDOT Design Standards
General Information for Traffic Control Through Work Zones
Pedestrian and Bicyclist
When an existing pedestrian way or bicycle way is located within a traffic control work zone, accommodation must be maintained ….
Manual of Uniform Minimum Standards for Design, Construction and Maintenance for Streets and Highways (Florida Greenbook)
Chapter 11 Work Zone Safety
The general objective of a program of work zone safety is to protect workers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists during construction and maintenance operations. This general objective may be achieved by meeting the following specific objectives:
- Provide safe passageways for pedestrians through, in, and/or around construction or maintenance work zones, including persons with disabilities in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
E.1.b Nature of Work
The development of the operation plan for work zone safety should include consideration of the following factors:
- Site conditions that may be confusing or distracting to the driver, pedestrian or bicyclist, or produce sight distance problems
E.3 Traffic Control and Protection
…. Provisions for the protection of work crews, traffic control personnel, bicyclists, pedestrians (in areas of high pedestrian use, construction of temporary facilities should be considered), and motorists shall be included in the operation plans. In all cases, the operation plan for traffic control and protection should include provisions for the following:
…. Pedestrian and bicyclist safety
Access for pedestrians, bicyclists ….
We need to note that sidewalks are intended for pedestrians, but bicyclists may use them unless there is a local ordinance to the contrary. Since it appears there was no bike lane in that area, the bicycle way would probably have been considered the main travel lane. We likely can’t count on past bicycle access to the sidewalk to justify the incorporation of bike facilities in the work zone, since the same roadway is still available, even though you may not consider it safe. I am aware of one work zone in St. Augustine that closed the shoulder and FDOT installed temporary Bicycles May Use Full Lane signs for the rightmost of two Eastbound 50 mph lanes across a bridge.
You may also want to consult an ADA attorney since it appears from above that there may be ADA regulations that address your concerns. Those are beyond the scope of this site, but if anyone knows more or can give sources, please comment.
The best way to address these problems is to do so well in advance of the project. The roadway department likely posts public announcements of upcoming work. I know FDOT publishes scheduled work for years in advance for state roadways. I have used that information to effect changes in the past. Getting in on the planning process will insure that you have input at the early stages.