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This post will address accessibility standards for Recreational Boating Facilities. Specifically, the requirements under the 2010 ADA Design Standards (2010 Standards) with regards to the access that is required to the various slips and boating amenities.

Now for a little history with respect to the building requirements associated to the Americans with Disabilities Act; while most items found in the 2010 Standards are triggered when there is new construction or an alteration done to an existing facility, the new revision provides updates to the 1991 Standards as well as including new areas of coverage. For example, golf courses, detention facilities, swimming pools, and of course, recreational boating facilities are items that were not covered in the 1991 Standards but are now covered in the 2010 Standards. Since these requirements are new, a municipality would need to ensure that these facilities offer programmatic access and remove appropriate barriers that people with disabilities face; or a business would need to ensure any barriers faced at these types of facilities are removed as they become readily achievable to do so.

The recreational boating facilities requirements should not be confused with requirements for passenger born vessels or ferry docks which is something the US Access Board is considering. Since recreational boating facilities can vary greatly depending on size of the actual facility, what boats the facility can accommodate, and the body of water in which the facility is located, we are going to focus on some of the basics.

Section 1003.2 of the 2010 Standards requires an accessible route to the boat slips, including gangways and the floating piers. The basic requirement is to provide an accessible gangway (with some exceptions) to the slips that are provided. The exceptions, due to the complexity of making gangways accessible, allow for some deviations regarding the length, running slope, landings, and certain changes in level. For example, a standard ramp would require a landing after a maximum rise of 30 inches (or 30 feet in length if the slope is 1:12). Gangways are allowed to have a longer run (length) without the provision of a landing every 30 feet. Another example is a standard ramp has a maximum running slope of 1:12 (8.33%). Gangways are required to have this slope, at least at mid-tide, but the 1:12 (8.33%) slope can be exceeded if it would require a gangway that exceeds 80 feet, basically requiring a gangway to not have to exceed 80 feet in length. There are some other exemptions that would determine the maximum length of the gangway, based on existing structures, number of slips provided, and disproportionate cost.

Section 235.2 of the 2010 ADA Standards sets the number of accessible slips that would be needed based on the number of slips provided at the facility. For example, if there were between 151 and 300 slips provided at a facility, there would need to be 5 accessible slips. Accessible slips, under Section 1003 of the 2010 Standards require pier space of 40 feet in length with a width of 60 inches. The width of the accessible route to the accessible slips can be reduced to 36 inches but only for a distance of 24 inches. Any of the outlets or connections at the accessible piers must provide the appropriate reach ranges. At this point, edge protection is not required, but if provided, it would need to be 4 inches in height.

The accessible slips, according to Section 235.2.1 of the 2010 Standards, must be dispersed throughout the various types of boat slips provided. Various types of slips may consist of covered or uncovered, shallow water or deep water, short term or long term lease, or other features like electricity, water or cable connections.

There are also requirements, under Section 1003.3.2 of the 2010 Standards for boarding piers at boat launches. This section requires a clear pier space of 60 inches wide and that clear pier space shall extend for the full length of the boarding pier; with some exceptions. The length of the boarding pier is determined by what other boarding pier lengths are at that location, or if none exist, what the length would be if no access requirements applied. The entire length would need to comply with the same standards that apply to boat slips.

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Assistant Director, Community Services Program

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