Baltimore’s estimate of the price of ADA compliance – a whopping $657 million

Baltimore’s streets and alleys are known for being largely lined with ragged, congested sidewalks and improperly built or nonexistent curb ramps, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Now, after three wheelchair users filed a federal class action lawsuit, traffic officials have released a very accurate estimate of the cost of adapting all public rights of way to 31-year-old federal law: $ 657 million.

This figure comes from a newly released draft of the city’s ADA Compliance Self-Assessment, which is available for public comment through July 28th.

Once completed, DOT said on its website this week, the report will be used to develop a transition plan “that will help bring non-compliant pedestrian facilities to current ADA standards and prioritize locations and funding over several years to achieve full compliance. ”

Based on a consultant study conducted in 2019, the document divides the task into categories and states that these estimated “minimum costs” do not include traffic control, engineering, or construction management:

• $ 98.8 million for 37,806 non-compliant curb ramps and medium treatments.

• $ 447 million for 2,982 miles of non-compliant walkways.

• $ 110 million for 30,795 non-compliant entry aprons.

• $ 1.1 million for 1,314 non-compliant pedestrian crossings and 111 non-compliant pedestrian signals.

Only about 1.3% of the 37,806 examined curb ramps currently correspond to the ADA.

Gloomy picture

When asked for comments on the draft, including cost estimates, an attorney told one of the organizations that filed the complaint that they are making their own estimates of the cost of compliance.

“Ultimately, it’s the city’s problem, the city needs to find out,” said Cory Warren of Disability Rights Maryland, local attorney for the lawsuit filed on behalf of the IMAGE Center of Maryland and three named plaintiffs.

Others involved in preparing the lawsuit include the New York-based disability rights attorneys, the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center, and Goldstein, Borgen, Dardarian & Ho.

“They’ve had 30 years and they just let it spoil everything,” Warren said. “In the end, that is your responsibility.”

Baltimore “was 30 years old and they just let it spoil everything. This is ultimately your responsibility. ”- Cory Warren, Disability Rights Maryland.

The 2019 study data referred to in the lawsuit paints a dire description of the scope of the problem.

In addition to only 1.3% of the ADA-compliant curb ramps examined, approximately 2,982 miles (66%) of the 4,500 miles of inventoried sidewalks in Baltimore were non-standard.

Of the 36,661 entrance aprons inventoried, 30,795 (84%) were not compliant.

The cost of repairing or upgrading a curb ramp averages $ 2,500, while the cost per pavement mile is $ 150,000, according to the report.

The lawsuit seeks the court to order Baltimore to comply with the law, schedule repairs, and monitor the city’s progress.

In the draft that the DOT submitted for public scrutiny, the following timetable is envisaged.

Compliance schedule listed in Baltimore’s ADA Compliance Project Assessment. (

In its final part, the report says:

“Much of the pedestrian infrastructure in the City of Baltimore has exceeded its intended life and needs to be replaced regardless of ADA compliance.

“The costs of replacing the infrastructure and complying with the regulations are significant and must be planned over a long period of time, which is planned according to the resources available.”

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