TDOT Americans with Disabilities Act Office
Shanna M. Waelty
Tennessee Department of Transportation
505 Deaderick St., Suite 1200
Nashville, TN 37243
In 1993, the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) prepared what the Department thought was a Transition Plan. Like many State DOTs across the county, having very little guidance at the federal level, very little was completed with the plan and very little of the plan could be found in 2000.
With this scattered information, TDOT decided to re-inventory all of their policies, procedures, and facilities. In 2000, the Department named a full-time ADA Coordinator, and by 2003, TDOT had removed all barriers to ensure everyone could benefit from the work of the Department. During that time, over 200 TDOT employees were trained in ADA compliance. It should be noted that while all sidewalks in Tennessee are the responsibility of the local jurisdictions by State statue, TDOT began a curb ramp replacement program through resurfacing projects in 2007.
Any new constructions of buildings or roadways were built in compliance with the current ADA standards. The Department of Transportation has incorporated accessibility into everything it does; compliance is the normal course of business. Although the Department has a dedicated full-time ADA Coordinator, all TDOT employees are required to ensure full ADA compliance on every project.
Under Tennessee Code Annotated 7-31-114, “Every incorporated city and town shall install ramps at crosswalks, in both business and residential areas, when making new installations of sidewalks, curbs or gutters, or improving or replacing existing sidewalks, curbs or gutters, so as to make the transition from street to sidewalk easily negotiable for persons with disabilities in wheelchairs and for other persons who may have difficulty in making the required step up or down from curb level to street level.” This state law also requires these ramps to be built with design specifications prepared by TDOT. These design standards are available on the Department’s web site, and all TDOT funded projects are review by this same set of standards. TDOT has a dedicated engineering staff that ensures these standard drawings are in full compliance with the current ADA standards and PROWAG. These standards ensure not only compliance but consistency across the state of Tennessee.
In 2015, TDOT began a full rewrite of the department’s Transition Plan. With the involvement of the disability community, TDOT reviewed all policies, procedures and facilities. This included everything from rest areas to TDOT’s website. In this same time, over 400 employees received ADA training and more training is scheduled. TDOT also offered training for our sub-recipients on how to develop their transition plans. This training was provided in response to FHWA’s request to have all qualifying TDOT sub-recipients complete their Transition Plans by December 2019.
In 2018, the Department is scheduled to complete an inventory of curb ramps adjacent to State roadways. Under Tennessee Code Annotated 54-5-202, the curb ramps are the responsibility of the local governments; however, TDOT is committed to full accessibility for everyone. This inventory will help the Department see where we can help the local governments by ensuring curb ramps are correctly installed.
The Chief Engineer, Paul D. Degges, has been the champion behind the Department of Transportation’s dedication to accessibility not only for the agency but across the country with other state departments of transportation.
This Page Last Updated: August 12, 2022 at 7:27 AM