The intersection of Southeast Military Highway and Goliad Road near I-37 present special challenges for pedestrians. Credit: Courtesy / Rachel Cywinski

The year 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the former Texas Highway Department, which was signed into state law April 4, 1917, to fulfill the requirement of the Federal Road Act of 1916. In 1991, the Texas Legislature combined the State Department of Highways and Public Transportation, the Department of Aviation, and the Texas Motor Vehicle Commission to create Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). In fulfillment of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), the agency in 2004 began implementing a transition plan to remove accessibility barriers from its rights-of-way throughout Texas.

To see a complete timeline of TxDOT’s 100-year history, click here.

TxDOT is enlisting the public’s help in improving access for persons with disabilities through an update to its transition plan. According to Darcie Schipull, transportation planner for the TxDOT San Antonio District, the meeting is being held to gather information at the very beginning of the process, before the agency begins to draft a plan.

The meeting will take place in the training room of Building 2 at 4615 NW Loop 410 on Wednesday, April 26, from 1:30-3:30 p.m. Schipull said she hopes for “discussion of the Americans with Disabilities Act Transition Plan Update that TxDOT is advancing.” Area representatives hope to hear about current barriers to accessible travel in the state’s rights-of-way throughout Texas, as well as suggestions for prioritizing improvements.

TxDOT’s civil rights division is primarily responsible for implementing the ADA. Schipull said that the division will hold meetings in each district to gather input, and that it is also working with its design division to create a database of all sidewalks and streets within the state highway system. The completed database will be used to develop priorities to make all facilities accessible per ADA guidelines.

“The Texas Department of Transportation is committed to ensuring that every program, service, benefit, activity, and facility is open to the public and is fully accessible,” Schipull said. “Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act is not only required under federal law – it is the right thing to do. Stakeholder involvement is critical to the process. TxDOT is  partnering with stakeholders from the disability community in every district to ensure the plan is appropriate and achievable.”

Following the district meetings, TxDoT planners will revise policies, procedures, and practices. From June 2018 to January 2019 they will program removal of barriers. TxDOT will accept comments on the draft plan in June 2019, and the plan will be presented for adoption in August 2019.

Those interested in participating in the TxDoT accessibility planning process may contact Darcie Schipull at (210) 615-5902 or darcie.schipull@txdot.gov.

Rachel Cywinski

Rachel Cywinski lives in San Antonio because she wants to and advocates for a sustainable future.