Accessible Sidewalks

General information

The Iowa Department of Transportation values accessibility of our transportation system for all customers. This includes the need to have sidewalks and driveways next to state highways accessible to people with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) requires each public entity to plan and construct sidewalks that are accessible.

As part of the ADA mandate, any government group that has responsibility for sidewalks must plan for and update pedestrian access or risk the loss of federal funding. The Iowa DOT shares responsibility with the cities for state highways that run through those cities. The agency has developed plans to help smaller communities of fewer than 5,000 residents that may not have the resources to meet the federal requirements on their own. Larger communities have a better opportunity to fund similar projects that will be addressed in the city's plan.

Plan to address ADA compliance in smaller cities with state highways

Before and after image

In February 2012, the Iowa DOT adopted a plan to address ADA compliance along state highways in smaller cities. The purpose of the plan is to identify the steps the Iowa DOT will take to achieve ADA compliance for sidewalks and multiuse paths. All Iowa DOT-designed projects will be built using state funds.

Sidewalks and paths must meet guidelines established by the United States Access Board ( (See FAQ for details.)

The Iowa DOT’s approach to meeting federal standards

Public Right-of-Way Accessibility Guideline (PROWAG)

  • The Iowa DOT, working with staff from the Statewide Urban Design and Specifications (SUDAS) and Federal Highway Administration, developed design guidance that can be used by all government agencies in Iowa. Local groups may choose to use their own standards, but those would require review and approval by the FHWA and/or the United States Department of Justice. The public right-of-way accessibility guidelines (Chapter 12) developed by the Iowa DOT and SUDAS have been approved by the FHWA as this section was developed in accordance with federal regulations
    (23 CFR § 652 and 28 CFR § 35). To review the information the Iowa DOT follows, see Chapter 12 at

  • Additional information on the PROWAG document (see summary).

More on the federal Law and consequences

  • The Code of Federal Regulations (28 CFR § 35.150) requires the Iowa DOT to have a transition plan for all ADA features within our jurisdiction and within the public rights-of-way. Consequences of not developing or following the plan could result in the Iowa DOT losing a significant percentage of federal money received (28 CFR § 35).


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