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Accessible Pedestrian Signals: Montomgery County, MD

Project Abstract

This case study is one of nine case studies on accessible pedestrian signals posted by Pedestrian and Bike Information Center. These studies describe experiences of US cities that have installed Accessible Pedestrian Signals. Some of these cities have a long history of installing APS; others have more recently installed APS at one or two intersections. This and each case study includes information on the municipality's history of APS installation, process and procedures, types of devices installed, dates installed, installation, maintenance, and evaluation issues, and contact information.



md 1: Pushbutton-integrated APS located on a stub pole beside the level landing of the curb ramp.
Pushbutton-integrated APS located on a stub pole beside the level landing of the curb ramp.
History and background The intersection of Fenton Street and Wayne Avenue is the first of eleven locations in the Silver Spring Central Business District (CBD) to be equipped with Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS) under a pilot program initiated by the County Executive.
Process and procedure There is no formal procedure to request APS. A committee was formed, in coordination with the Montgomery County Commission on Persons with Disabilities, to make decisions about type and features of APS to be installed.
Most signalized intersections in the county are on state roads, so final decisions of the State Highway Administration on APS policy will affect installation at those locations.
Funding Costs for the pilot project are absorbed as part of the traffic engineering department budget. Additional line item for APS installation was requested in budget but was not funded.
Description of intersection These traffic signals are being rebuilt as part of the redevelopment of the CBD. Fenton Street and Wayne Avenue was the first one to be rebuilt, and hence the first to receive APS. All intersection legs are 4 lanes wide. Fenton Street runs approximately north/south and Wayne Avenue runs east/west. There is a leading left turn phase from westbound Wayne to Southbound Fenton.
Date installed September 2001
APS type and features Pushbutton-integrated devices from Polara Engineering.
Intersection is pre-timed, with walk intervals associated with each crossing being provided each cycle, but the APS are actuated (audible and vibrotactile WALK indications are not provided unless the pushbutton is pushed).
APS features:
  • Speech WALK message
  • Vibrotactile WALK indication
  • Pushbutton locator tone
  • Automatic volume adjustment in response to ambient sound
  • Raised arrow oriented in the direction of travel on the crosswalk
  • Speech pushbutton information message.

The locator tone is constant except when the speech WALK message or pushbutton information message is activated.
  • Speech WALK message: 'WALK sign is on to cross Fenton Street'- (or Wayne Avenue)
  • Pushbutton information message, provided after three second depression of pushbutton:
    • Includes both street names
    • Clarifies to which crossing the button applies
    • Example: "Crossing Wayne Ave at Fenton St"

APS installation Devices are installed on all four corners, using stub poles for all in order to place the pushbuttons and APS at the top of the ramp for each direction, separated by at least 10 feet.
Pushbutton-integrated APS located on a stub pole beside the level landing of the curb ramp.
Pedestrian with dog guide at an APS located in line with crosswalk.
Each pole is approximately five feet tall with a substantial base; locations vary somewhat but are generally located:
  • Within 5 feet of the crosswalk lines extended
  • 6-10 feet from the curb, (except on NW corner where further construction is planned and those poles were located farther from the curb)

'The Polara control unit and the microphone, which monitors sound for the automatic volume adjustment, are typically installed inside 18-inch pedestrian traffic signal heads. At this location with 12-inch pedestrian signal heads, the control units were installed in an exterior box attached to the top of the pedestrian traffic signal heads. The microphone was attached to the box, which located it much higher than usual; however, that placement seems acceptable.
Installation issues There were no real problems with the installation, however, locating the poles and APS properly in relation to the curb ramp and as recommended in the MUTCD is difficult. While it may be less of a problem in new construction, it requires thought and planning, and extra poles, conduit, wiring and construction in retrofit situations.
Maintenance Except for some minor adjustments after installation, there have been no maintenance issues or failures.
Evaluation No formal evaluation has been conducted. Committee members visited the installation and were generally pleased with the functioning.
Contact Bruce Mangum, Senior Engineer Transportation Systems Management Section Division of Public Works and Transportation Montgomery County Maryland 101 Monroe Street, 11th Floor Rockville, MD 20850 Phone; 240-777-8778 - Fax: 240-777-8750 E-mail: bruce.mangum@montgomerycountymd.gov
More information:
http://www.walkinginfo.org/aps/14-1.cfm

Pushbutton-integrated APS located on a stub pole beside the level landing of the curb ramp.     
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Pushbutton-integrated APS located on a stub pole beside the level landing of the curb ramp.
Pedestrian with dog guide at an APS located in line with crosswalk.     
Info Icon
Pedestrian with dog guide at an APS located in line with crosswalk.


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