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Montgomery County to Activate Newest HAWK Beacon to Improve Pedestrian Safety in Aspen Hill on Friday, May 10

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Montgomery County will notch one more achievement in its drive to keep pedestrians safe at noon on Friday, May 10, when it will activate its newest high intensity activated crosswalk (HAWK) beacon on Aspen Hill Road between Georgia and Connecticut Avenues. County Executive Marc Elrich will be among those kicking off the activation.

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) installed the pedestrian beacon in response to community concerns about the safety of pedestrians crossing Aspen Hill Road between two busy shopping centers to the north and south, each with heavy turning vehicular traffic.

This is the fourth pedestrian beacon of its kind constructed by MCDOT in the County. HAWK beacons flash yellow when a pedestrian presses the signal button, then turn solid yellow and finally red to stop oncoming motorized vehicles; pedestrians are then given a walk signal.

HAWK beacons are an attractive and cost-effective option to meet pedestrian safety needs at mid-block crossings or where the traffic volume at the site is too low to warrant a full signal. In evaluating sites for a HAWK beacon installation, MCDOT considers the volume of pedestrian traffic, the type of roadway, traffic speeds and sightlines. The new beacon, a routine MCDOT improvement to traffic signal infrastructure, aligns with the County’s Vision Zero initiative to improve pedestrian safety.

“This represents the latest milestone in our efforts to increase the walkability of our communities,” said County Executive Elrich. “Our residents have a right to safe crossings as they move around the neighborhood, shop and run errands.”

Montgomery County typically installs HAWK beacons where traffic speeds are 35 mph and lower. The County’s first HAWK beacon, installed in 2010 on Gude Drive in Rockville, is slated for conversion to a full signal given the length of the pedestrian crossing. Another HAWK beacon, to be installed in Chevy Chase at Willard Avenue and the Hills Plaza, is currently in the design phase.

“As part of our ongoing effort to improve pedestrian safety, we are committed to pursuing signalization for mid-block crossings and uncontrolled intersections,” said MCDOT Director Al Roshdieh.

MCDOT is working with the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) to encourage assessment of unsignalized crossings on state roads in the County based on MCDOT’s practices. MDOT is currently reevaluating its signalizations to address pedestrian safety concerns.

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Release ID: 19-154
Media Contact: Maureen McNulty 240-777-7199