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Guidance Sheet — Temporary Traffic Control Zone Pedestrian Access Considerations

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When developing temporary traffic control (TTC) plans, the importance of pedestrian access in and around the work zone is often overlooked or underestimated. A basic requirement of work zone traffic control, as provided in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), is that the needs of pedestrians, including those with disabilities, must be addressed in the TTC process. Pedestrians should be provided with reasonably safe, convenient, and accessible paths that replicate as nearly as practical the most desirable characteristics of the existing sidewalks or footpaths. It is essential to recognize that pedestrians are reluctant to retrace their steps to a prior intersection for a crossing, or to add distance or out-of-the-way travel to a destination. This guidance sheet serves to remind TTC designers and construction personnel of the importance of pedestrian access, to stress the need for pedestrian safety, and to offer suggestions that will improve the visibility of pedestrian access.

Identifying the Need

If pedestrians are permitted to access the work site, designers must anticipate that young, elderly, and persons with disabilities (such as mobility, visual, or hearing impaired) will be traversing the work site, all of whom need a clearly delineated and usable travel path. The first and most important consideration for pedestrians is safety. Pedestrians must be kept in a safe environment on a smooth, well-marked travel path. Other pedestrian needs include access to bus stops (consider the need for temporarily moving the bus stop to improve safety and to accommodate work zone operation), sidewalks, crosswalks, and businesses, as well as lighting at night to allow safe walking through the construction area.

"When existing pedestrian facilities are disrupted, closed, or relocated in a TTC zone, the temporary facilities shall be detectable and include accessibility features consistent with the features present in the existing pedestrian facility."
–Part 6D, MUTCD

The level of accessibility needed for pedestrians in the TTC zone can be identified by observing existing pedestrian travel patterns and accommodations prior to the start of work and as the work actually progresses. The presence of pedestrians in the area, existing sidewalks, other paths, and facilities such as schools, residences, businesses (shops, supermarkets), community centers, and parks, all indicate that pedestrians are likely to be present in the TTC zone.

One way to inform pedestrians about TTC zones is through the development and deployment of a public outreach campaign. A public outreach campaign is particularly important for long-term and major construction projects. Often a public outreach campaign notifies the majority of pedestrians in the area of pending construction, raising the visibility of pedestrian access accommodations within the community. Such a campaign should target the general public along with representatives from schools, community centers, parks, transit, and businesses in the area to alert them of upcoming changes and to advise them of the efforts being undertaken to accommodate pedestrian needs. Pre-work notification in the immediate vicinity of the TTC, e.g., at bus stops, in store windows, etc., will allow pedestrians to make alternate route plans, if possible.

Sidewalk Detours/Closures During Construction

It is undesirable to close sidewalks or pathways during construction. If unavoidable, consider:

  • Using channelizing devices to delineate a temporary route.
  • Clearly defining any detoured routes.
  • Placing advance signs at intersections rather than midblock locations.
  • Maintaining a minimum width and smooth surface for wheelchair access. This includes providing ADA compliant wheelchair ramps if pedestrians are channeled from the sidewalk into the street.
  • Protecting pedestrians from vehicle traffic.
  • Protecting pedestrians from hazards, such as holes, cracks, debris, dust, and mud.

If a temporary route is created in the roadway adjacent to the closed sidewalk, the parking lane or one travel lane may be used for pedestrian travel, with appropriate barricades, cones, and signing. When a parking lane or travel lane is not available for closure, pedestrians must be detoured with advance signs in accordance with the MUTCD. Typical application 28, below, shows a 36 inch minimum width sidewalk; however, the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities (ADA) requirement has been increased to a 48 inch minimum width. Also note that when it is not possible to maintain a minimum width of 60 inches throughout the entire length of the pedestrian pathway, a 60 inch by 60 inch passing space should be provided at least every 200 feet to allow individuals in wheelchairs to pass.

This figure illustrates two examples of a sidewalk detour or diversion.

This figure illustrates an example of crosswalk closures and pedestrian detours.

Guidance on Accommodating Pedestrians in TTC Zones

The MUTCD provides basic guidance on how to accommodate pedestrians in and around TTC zones. Considerations in planning for pedestrian safety in TTC zones on highways and streets are identified in Part 6D of the MUTCD as follows:

  • Pedestrians should not be led into direct conflicts with work site vehicles, equipment, or operations.
  • Pedestrians should not be led into direct conflicts with mainline traffic moving through or around the work site.
  • Pedestrians should be provided with a convenient and accessible path that replicates as nearly as possible the most desirable characteristics of the existing sidewalk(s) or footpath(s).

Photograph showing a covered temporary pedestrian walkway through an urban work zone that uses brightly colored cement barriers to separate pedestrians from vehicular traffic.

Photograph showing handicapped person in a wheelchair utilizing a temporary ramp to access a pedestrian detour in a work zone.

Intersections and Crossings Near TTC Zones
  • At intersections, when possible, avoid closing crosswalks.
  • At signalized intersections, mark temporary crosswalks if they are relocated from their previous location and provide curb ramps.
  • Maintain access to pedestrian push buttons (preferably at intersections rather than midblock).
  • Include pedestrian phases in temporary signals.
  • Provide advance notification of closures.
  • Provide audible information devices, preferably passive pedestrian actuation for visually impaired pedestrians, where applicable.

Photograph showing a pedestrian entering a covered temporary pedestrian walkway through an urban work zone.

Maintaining Pedestrian Pathways in TTC Zones

If a project allows pedestrian access through part of the TTC zone, the pathway should be properly maintained. Note that tape, rope, or a plastic chain strung between devices is not detectable; their use does not comply with the design standards in the ADA or the MUTCD, and these items should not be used as a control for pedestrian movements. When implemented, the following recommendations should improve safety and convenience:

  • Inspect pathways regularly, and keep them clear of debris and well-maintained.
  • Treat surfaces with non-slip materials for inclement weather.
  • Replace walkway surfaces with holes, cracks, or vertical separation.
  • Inspect detour pathways regularly for adequacy of signal timing, signs, and potential traffic hazards.
  • Inspect signs regularly.
  • Minimize work vehicle and equipment movements across pedestrian designated pathways.
  • Remove any hazards and re-evaluate adequacy for pedestrian safety.

For more information, see Part 6 of the MUTCD for work zone specific issues and http://www.access-board.gov/news/sidewalk-videos.htm for pedestrian accessibility issues.

Developed by:
The American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA)
15 Riverside Parkway, Suite 100 Fredericksburg, VA 22406-1022
800-272-8772

This material is based upon work supported by the Federal Highway Administration under
Grant Agreement No. DTFH61-06-G-00004

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Federal Highway Administration.

Posted: 5/15/2009

Categories: Temporary Traffic Control | Pedestrian Safety