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Press Releases - Department of Transportation

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Montgomery County notched one more achievement in its drive to keep pedestrians safe at noon on Friday, May 10, when it activated its newest high intensity activated crosswalk (HAWK) beacon on Aspen Hill Road between Georgia and Connecticut Avenues. County Executive Marc Elrich joined MCDOT Deputy Director Chris Conklin and Councilmembers Sidney Katz and Evan Glass to kick 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.

“MCDOT is implementing pedestrian safety improvements all around the County in the form of new and repaired sidewalks, crosswalks, accessible pedestrian signals, pedestrian and traffic safety and engineering studies at schools, and improvements like this one at high priority sites for pedestrian safety," said MCDOT Deputy Director Conklin. He thanked Maryland DOT SHA Administrator Greg Slater for his leadership in lifting the prohibition on HAWK beacons.

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.

View the County Report This Week coverage.


Release ID: 19-075
Media Contact: Maureen McNulty 240-777-7199

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