What you should know about ADA compliant docks and fishing piers

What you should know about ADA compliant docks and fishing piers

VW Docks can build any dock. We love a good challenge.

We especially enjoy building docks that everyone can use and enjoy. In fact, VW Docks is a leader in the industry when it comes to handicapped docks. Over the years, we have helped many of our clients start and complete their handicapped-accessible floating dock projects.

These are not projects to be taken lightly, though. Experience and knowledge of requirements are needed to build a dock that is truly accessible.

Here is what you need to know about building ADA-compliant handicapped docks and fishing piers.

An ADA basics overview

The ADA, or Americans with Disabilities Act, is a civil rights law that prohibits discriminating against anyone with a disability. The law requires a wide range of facilities, whether government or commercial, to be accessible and useable by people with disabilities.

The ADA has Accessibility Guidelines that are applied to new buildings and facilities. This includes recreational facilities, such as fishing piers and docks. Designers of these facilities are encouraged to actually exceed ADA guidelines to make sure the structures are accessible.

Some of the requirements include the need to have gangways that attach floating structures to the sloped pathways that provide access to them. Transition plates, which help provide easy access to structures differing in height, are also often required. There are also handrail extensions to consider.

These are all requirements that you will want to make sure the people responsible for building a handicapped-accessible dock are aware of.

More information about ADA guidelines for recreational structures can be found online.

Provide ‘accessible routes’ to structures

Whether you are building a fishing pier or a dock, to be in compliance with ADA regulations, you will need to provide what are referred to as “accessible routes” to the structure.

The route surface, slope and width must all be taken into consideration. For fishing piers, there also needs to be an accessible route with no obstructions to the actual fishing area. For example, you need to take into consideration whether a wheelchair could be moved into position once on the structure.

For boating facilities, there need to be accessible routes to the facility’s entrance. Again, surface, slope and width of pathways are of concern here. In the facility itself, there need to be accessible routes to a certain number of accessible boat slips.

Any controls or operating mechanisms, which could include hose bibbs, water supply hoses, electrical outlets, even telephones and TVs, need to be located along accessible routes, as well.

Gangways and gangway slope

The ADA regulates gangways that connect land or a fixed structure of some sort to a floating fishing pier. The slopes of gangways on floating structures can vary due to water levels and weather conditions and so the requirements needed for compliance are somewhat flexible for floating piers and platforms - but not fixed piers and platforms.

As water rises, a gangway’s slope will increase. Keeping the steepness of the slope as low as possible under all conditions will make structures much more accessible, so designers must keep this in mind.

Railings, guards and handrails

When it comes to fishing platforms and piers, there also numerous regulations related to railings, guards and handrails. For example, if any of those are on the fishing pier, there are location and height restrictions that need to be adhered to.

Twenty-five percent of railings, guards or handrails near the fishing areas on the piers should be no more than 34 inches above the deck.

The guards can be higher than 34 inches, however, if the taller portion is no less than 42 inches high. In addition, though, balusters or ornamental patterns cannot allow a four-inch diameter sphere to pass through up to 34 inches and an eight-inch diameter sphere can’t pass through the remaining height of the guard. This is to ensure safety and adherence to other building codes, according to

Edge protection

If a fishing pier or platform railings, guards or handrails, then edge protection is also required. The edge protection prevents wheelchairs or other devices that assist with mobility from falling off the pier or platform.

Edge protection can come in a couple of different forms. One option is a curb or barrier that rise two inches above the platform surface. Another option is an extended ground or deck surface that goes at least 12 inches beyond a railing.

Boat slips

Boating facilities also need to have a specific number of their boat slips be accessible if they want to attain ADA compliance.

Per the ADA, a boat slip is defined as the part of a pier, main pier, finger pier or float where a boat can be berthed, moored or used for embarking or disembarking and is not part of a boat launch ramp.

The number of required accessible boat slips depends on how many total slips a facility has. For example, if the facility has anywhere from one to 25 slips, then it needs at least one accessible slip. A facility with 26 to 50 slips needs two accessible slips. The more total slips, the more the required number of accessible slips continues to increase.

Additionally, the accessible boat slips need to be dispersed throughout the facility rather than limited to one area.

Contact VW Docks to start your handicapped dock project

If all that sounds like a lot of information to remember, then don’t worry. VW Docks is an industry leader in designing, building and installing handicapped docks. We have designed and built many handicapped-accessible docks over the years.

Let’s get started on your ADA-compliant, handicapped-accessible dock project.

Work with VW Docks and we will design, construct, deliver and install a handicapped-accessible floating dock that fits your needs.

Our process involves listening to clients and collaborating with them to build the most functional dock possible. We can even assist with budget planning and finding funding for projects.

Learn more about how we can create a dock that’s built for everyone to enjoy. Contact us today.

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