ADAAG requires municipalities not only to integrate detectable warning systems but also to maintain them. While that maintenance can add costs, it is in the community's best interest, a lawsuit from an accident could be far more expensive.
To remain in compliance with ADAAG, communities should stick to a routine maintenance schedule including replacing domes, recoating surfaces, and re-adhering or replacing panels. Debris should be removed and surrounding areas cleaned to keep optimum texture and contrast. Snow and ice must be removed to ensure that all pedestrian rights-of-way are safe and can be readily accessed by people with disabilities. Certain deicing chemicals can make some systems slippery, however, so testing ahead of time may be useful.
Choosing the right detectable warning system for your community is a daunting task with a number of variables. Is the panel affected by temperature? Will the panel stand up to the beatings of a snowplow? Can deicing chemicals such as salt or calcium chloride be used on the panels?
While improvements continue and many new products are still being developed, research can help you provide safe sidewalks accessible to everyone in your community.
Connie Slater is an engineer with Stantec, South Burlington, Vt.