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DOT REAFFIRMS NEED FOR MASS TRANSIT OPERATORS TO INSTALL DETECTABLE STRIPS

 WASHINGTON, Nov. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- The Department of Transportation today reaffirmed the need for detectable warning strips along platform edges in subway, rail and other stations to help prevent falls from the platform by blind or visually impaired persons.
 Detectable warnings are two-foot wide strips that include a pattern of small, raised, rounded surfaces that feel different underfoot than the platform surface and will be noticed by a blind person using a cane.
 Blind and visually impaired persons who have written to the department on this issue strongly support detectable warnings. A number of blind passengers have fallen from platforms that do not have these warnings and, in some case, have been killed.
 Current DOT rules under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) call for existing key or important stations to be modified by the addition of detectable warning strips along the platform edges.
 However, some rail systems reported problems with adhesive failures and "lift-off" of the warning surfaces and also express concerns about cleaning, snow and ice removal and durability. In response to these concerns, the department is amending its ADA rule to give mass transit operators an extension until next July to retrofit key rail station platforms with the warning strips. The extension does not apply to all new station platforms built after 1992.
 "It's more important to do this right than to do it quickly and perhaps have to do it again," said Secretary of Transportation Federico Pena. "Everyone would have preferred it if the original deadline of last July had been met, but whenever an agency publishes a major rule such as the ADA, some subsequent changes and adjustments are likely to be needed."
 The secretary noted that some stations are in full compliance already.
 The department also made other changes in its ADA rule, including:
 -- A requirement that vehicle operators ask passengers to move from a designated priority seat to make room for a passenger with a disability; and
 -- A clarification of the procedures for determining when a proposed design to accommodate people with disabilities is equivalent to the DOT specifications, although it may vary in some details.
 The department declined to adopt a proposal that would have limited the use of bus lifts by persons with mobility impairments who do not use wheelchairs.
 -0- 11/29/93
 /CONTACT: Roslyn Kaiser of the U.S. Department of Transportation, 202-366-5571/


CO: U.S. Department of Transportation ST: District of Columbia IN: TRN SU: EXE

IH-DC -- DC098 -- 8302 11/29/93 12:42 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 29, 1993
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