Montgomery DOT Wins Award for Region’s First “Protected Intersection”

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 constructing the first “protected intersection” in the Mid-Atlantic Region.

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

“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 Marc 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.”

According to a press release:

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.”

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.

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.

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

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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