State to Also Seek Federal Approval of Enhanced Pedestrian Signal

(March 28, 2017) – The Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration (SHA) today announced plans to install new pedestrian safety signals at two locations: a new flashing light at MD 586 (Veirs Mill Road) and Turkey Branch Parkway (Matthew Hanson Trail) in Montgomery County; and a full-color traffic signal with pedestrian countdown/accessible signals at MD 214 (Central Avenue) at the Addison Road Metrorail Station in Prince George’s County.

“Pedestrians and bicyclists make up one-fifth of the 500 traffic fatalities in Maryland every year, which is disproportionate when compared to how much we drive,” said SHA Administrator Gregory Slater.  “SHA is continually seeking engineering solutions to help protect our most vulnerable travelers and influence behavior to enhance safety.”

The new flashing signal on MD 586 at Turkey Branch Parkway (Matthew Henson Trail) will display a flashing yellow caution light 24/7 on MD 586 until a pedestrian or bicyclist presses the cross button.  The signal then turns to solid red, stopping all vehicular traffic. 

Additionally, SHA will install a full-color traffic signal at the MD 214 and Addison Road Metrorail intersection.  Pedestrian countdown signals are included to help more than 1,500 pedestrians safely cross each day.

SHA selected these locations based on heavy pedestrian and bicyclist use and potential conflicts with considerable amounts of vehicular traffic.  MD 214 at the Addison Road Metrorail Station has an average traffic volume of nearly 53,000 vehicles daily, and MD 586 has approximately 42,000 each day.  SHA has begun design of both safety improvements with installation anticipated by mid-spring for MD 214 and mid-summer for MD 586.

Education and enforcement will be crucial elements to ensure the proper use of these safety improvements.  Together with local partners, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) will deploy safety ambassadors on MD 586 and MD 214 to educate pedestrians and bicyclists that they must press the button to stop traffic and cross. 

To add another tool in the toolbox for safety, SHA also is working with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to potentially use a Maryland Enhanced High-intensity Activated Crosswalk (HAWK) beacon in Maryland.  A Maryland Enhanced HAWK is similar in design to the traditional HAWK signal, but provides more visibility with a constant flashing yellow signal.

A standard HAWK beacon stays dark until it is activated by a pedestrian, which triggers a flashing yellow light that changes to a solid yellow light.  The HAWK beacon then changes to a dual solid red light, and a pedestrian signal indicates pedestrian and bicyclists can safely proceed across the road.

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