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Montgomery County Earns American Council of Engineering Companies of Metropolitan Washington Award for First ‘Protected Intersection’ in Region Connecting Silver Spring Bike Network

For Immediate Release: Thursday, December 19, 2019

Montgomery County’s Department of Transportation (MCDOT) and engineering firm Stantec have earned an American Council of Engineering Companies of Metropolitan Washington (ACEC/MW) award for producing the first “protected intersection” in the Mid-Atlantic Region. The intersection in Downtown Silver Spring, which was dedicated on Oct. 7, connects a new half-mile “cycletrack” completed by MCDOT with a previously completed section to form a 1.2-mile bikeway that protects cyclists from vehicles. The project directly connects the bikeway to the Paul Sarbanes Silver Spring Transit Center.

The Merit Award was presented at the ACEC/MW Engineering Excellence Awards at a December event in Rosslyn. Stantec, an international design company whose offices in Laurel and Towson worked on the project, entered it for award consideration. The ACEC/MW website said the projects recognized “are all shining examples why engineering is such an integral part of our society and a foundational building block for our future.”

Cycletracks provide physical separation between motor vehicles and bicycles and a protected intersection continues that protection through the intersection. The project also includes the first bicycle traffic signal in Maryland, where the project crosses at Colesville Road.

There are about three dozen protected intersections in the U.S., with the nearest ones to the Washington area being in Atlanta and Boston.

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, who has made protecting pedestrians and bicyclists a priority, County Councilmembers Tom Hucker and Hans Riemer and Director of the County Planning Board Casey Anderson led the dedication ceremonies in October at the intersection at Spring Street and Second Avenue in Silver Spring.

The protected intersection increases separation between vehicles and pedestrians and those riding bicycles and scooters, better protecting them as stated in the goals of County’s Vision Zero initiative.

The main features of the intersection are corner islands that force drivers to slow when turning, providing improved visibility. The islands also reduce crossing distances from one side of the street to the other. These elements reduce the possibility of collisions, and if a collision does occur, the likelihood of death or severe injury is reduced because of the lower turning speeds. The new intersection also includes ADA-compliant ramps and detectable warning surfaces

The new section of the cycletrack, which runs along Wayne and Second avenues from Georgia Avenue to Spring Street, connects with the section constructed on Spring and Cedar streets in 2017.

“We are constantly working on programs and designs that will make our streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, but we know that traditional methods do not always work as well as intended,” said County Executive Elrich. “We are determined to make a difference, and on some of our busiest streets. We need to be innovative. I think that this new protected intersection will address our safety needs.”

In addition to the State’s first dedicated bicycle traffic signal that lets cyclists know that there will be no vehicles crossing their path, the project includes three floating bus stops (in which buses pick up/discharge riders in areas separated from the main roadway). Also in the project are Montgomery County’s first red-painted lane designated for bus use only. The bus lane is temporary and is in place to help buses avoid impacts during the construction of the future Purple Line bridge over Colesville Road.

One other feature of the project is the County’s first digital “bikeometer” that counts the number of cyclists using the cycletrack. It has a roadside sign displaying the number of cyclists passing the intersection of Second Avenue and Colesville Road daily and over the course of each year.

Planning for the intersection began in 2017. The cycletrack and the protected intersection are elements of the Silver Spring Master Plan and the recently adopted Montgomery County Bicycle Master Plan.

More information on the project, with graphic design images, can be found at https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/dot-dte/projects/secondave/index.html


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Release ID: 19-414
Media Contact: Neil H. Greenberger, 240-777-6532