Toe kicks/guard requirements at stair sides

This is an interesting one - we have, as a typical detail, a sloping maintenance trough running down the sides of public stairs in transit stations. Basically the stair treads and risors stop short of the side walls by 3" and that 3" has a recessed, sloped surface so that cleaning water, spills, etc. can run down to the bottom. We have a jurisdiction inspector telling us that this is a code problem. We cannot find the code problem - the sides of stairs don't usually have toe kicks...and there is no effective gap anywhere as the side walls are solid. Does anyone have any idea of how the IBC might address this is if it is, indeed, a problem? We have no reference from the inspector yet, they just are asking if this detail "meets code".
Christine Scharrer, AIA
Original Post
Traditionaly treads are full width. Stopping short creates a potential trip hazard.

If that much stuff requires periodic washing maybe an alternate material like grating might be a better solution with a sloping pan beneath the treads to channel the water.
There is no specific code section that I can find relating to the "gutter" sides. This type of construction is quite prevalent in public transit buildings.
Personally I think that if the mandatory 1.5" handrail gap and max 1.5" handrail are present, then the side "gutter is not a large issue for trip hazard due to the handrail compelling persons to be outboard from the wall. I do recommend to radius the nosing to side transition at the "gutter" so a foot does not hook if placed beyond the tread face.
Anyone else have input?
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