Well, a reasonably innocent question on my part certainly took a left turn. Thinking of the question I certaily should have considered the ADA implications. In my work career, crews I was in charge of literally built 100's of ADA ramps and sidewalks in PA & NY. While I know we are discussing a wooden walkway in NC , the ADA rules are federal. Did not consider those implications when all I really wanted to know was who was responsible, or approved a haljf baked repair to steps on the bottom of a beach access. Now then, thinking about it I see at least three scenario's-One correction here... the vast majority of the walkway in question in this thread IS actually located on Federal land. You can see it on the Dare GIS image. It's the walkway on the left in the photo. The Federal land boundaries are indicated in red.
1. I can see a how walkway from a private house that doesn't infringe onto federal land can pretty much do what they want.
2. I don't know how a "community walkway" open to the general public can avoid the ADA rules, regardless of where it exits.
3. A public walkway exiting or infringing onto federal land should have to comply with the ADA rules.
Given that the federal/state land begins at the high water mark which is a fairly open description, lets say that most of the public walkways probaly fall into the ADA baliwick.
Of/On the projects I was aligned with - all using public funds, the argument of cost was WAY, WAY down on the list of exceptions to be exonerated for compliance. Most of the ramps I have seen on the island could -(yes could ) be constructed to ADA spec's. The landscape on the shore is reasonably flat - except for the dune hump. Extending a ramp parallel to the shoreline instead of steps gets you in compliance. Cost - for sure. But at least your talking only about pressure treated lumber, fasteners, and labor. No concrete, steel, trees or major heavy equipment required.
Not my intention at all to cause any constrenation, or start a war on ADA. I can just see now however on how a small bit of shoddy construction can be a huge issue.