Contacting local transportation professionals
Transportation professionals may consist of traffic engineers, public works personnel, signal technicians, and/or transportation planners. In some cases, local consulting engineering firms are contracted to provide operation and maintenance control of signalized intersections. The ownership of the signal, whether it is at the township, county, city or state level, designates which transportation professional would be in charge of the intersection.
Make contact with the transportation professional by contacting your local government office. Work in a collaborative manner and develop a productive working relationship:
- Talk with the transportation professional and familiarize yourself with the procedures to accommodate your request.
- Understand that additional parties and factors may be involved when addressing your request (funding, politics, etc).
- Ask transportation professionals about signal phasing and timing plans at particular intersections and how pedestrians are accommodated.
Understand municipality structure
Structure varies from one municipality to the next:
- Engineering may be part of public works, or it may be a separate department
- Intersection signals may be part of a state or county traffic management network, even if within a town or city, or they may be managed by a consulting firm
- New construction of an intersection may be contracted out to a traffic engineering or electrical contractor
- Signals may be maintained by a different department than the one that installed them
- Learn if there is a local jurisdiction or statewide ADA coordinator and/or a Department of Transportation/Public Works Department ADA coordinator. This coordinator may ensure that the local jurisdiction's streets, sidewalks and facilities are accessible to pedestrians with disabilities. The coordinator may also have more influence in getting traffic engineers to install accessible signals than someone outside of the local jurisdiction.
To learn about a city department structure, check the city web site or check a phone directory for offices and structure information.
Contact person in traffic engineering department
Call the department that manages traffic signals and ask who to talk to about a specific intersection.
- Call and explain to the transportation professional what you do and why you want to know about the intersection (people responsible for the traffic signals may not have considered all travel strategies and may not know that professionals exist to consult with about the travel needs of pedestrians with visual impairments)
- Ask the person in charge for more information about who does what and how to ask for information
- Find out the procedure for requesting changes or modifications to an intersection
- Local pedestrian advisory/advocacy meetings. Many towns set up these groups to solicit feedback on pedestrian issues and advice on potential solutions.
- Local meetings of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) or other engineering professional meetings.
- Local Disability Advisory Committee meetings. The Disability Advisory Committee reports directly to elected officials (Mayor, City Council, and County Board of Supervisors) of the local jurisdiction.
If the Disability Advisory Committee has a Physical Access Subcommittee, an O&M specialist may want to become a permanent member in order to have an opportunity to advocate for and influence future installations of accessible signals.
Consider attending Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) public hearings:
- Opportunities provided to meet Department of Transportation staff and/or traffic engineers.
- Present brief comments on the needs of pedestrians.
- Familiarize yourself with APS installations in your area or nearby areas
- Learn the language used by traffic engineers
- Familiarize yourself with state regulations and practices such as MUTCD, ADA Title II and Draft PROWAG
- Learn the desires of others in your community
- Remain informed on current APS technology
- Follow up on any requests and do not assume someone else is doing everything right
- Learn where to report problems or malfunctions
Educate your students
Responsibilities to students:
- Teach students about changes in signalization and intersection geometry
- Explain the necessity of using pushbuttons at actuated intersections
- Remind students that timing plans can vary, so the signal timing they identify when crossing the intersection at a specific time of day or day of week may be different the next time they use the same intersection
- Assist students in requesting an APS
- Teach students how to use APS
Advocate for APS
Advocate for APS, especially at intersections when:
- Pedestrians are unable to discern the WALK interval
- A pedestrian pushbutton controls the pedestrian crossing phase
- Signalization includes a leading pedestrian interval or an exclusive pedestrian phasing
- Many electric or hybrid vehicles are present
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