History and background
The New Jersey Department of Transportation has been sensitive to the needs of the visually impaired. The first vibratory (with raised directional arrow) pushbuttons in New Jersey were installed in 1992 at the Rowan College signalized pedestrian crossing across Route 322. As of August 2000, NJDOT had installed APS devices at four intersections. The devices at the location described and pictured here, Route 31 and Route 57, were installed in the fall of 2000. NJDOT has recently installed APS devices at other intersections and expects to install more devices.
A project is underway for the installation and evaluation of four types of APS devices at intersections in Morristown, NJ. The study is funded by NJ Highway Traffic Safety and is being conducted by Edwards and Kelcey in cooperation with The Seeing Eye. More information is provided here.
Process and procedure
There is no formal process for deciding to install an APS.
These APS devices were installed at the request of a blind person in conjunction with reconstruction of the intersection. An orientation and mobility specialist provided information used in making a decision about type of APS selected.
The APS signals are funded under the general state fund with no special funding sources.
The cost of the devices was $400.00 per device to NJDOT, plus installation by NJDOT forces. NJDOT went out to bid for the devices.
Description of intersection
Route 31 and Route 57, major intersection of four-lane undivided road
and two and three lane road with parking lane at the edge of small downtown CBD. There are four traffic islands with signalized crossings to the islands. Pushbuttons were installed at all crossings for a total of twelve devices at the intersection.
APS type and features
Pushbutton-integrated APS manufactured by Polara
These devices were installed as a retrofit before various recommendations and guidelines were issued. Currently, recommendations of the Public Rights-of-Way Access Advisory Committee (PROWAAC) and draft Public Rights-of-Way Accessibility Guidelines state that devices should provide audible and vibrotactile information about the walk interval. These APS are vibrotactile only, so do not conform to these recommendations. MUTCD and PROWAAC recommendations also encourage installation of devices on two poles separated by at least 3 meters. If separation is not possible, PROWAAC recommends speech messages for the walk interval. Vibrotactile indication was used here.
Installation issues No major installation issues
There have been no reported maintenance problems except the vibrating arrows on a couple of devices have gotten stuck and stopped vibrating.
There has been no vandalism.
There were complaints at first from the blind woman using the device regarding placement of the devices and ability to line up and cross while keeping her hand on the vibrating arrow. She was trained to use the APS by the mobility specialist and was able to use them adequately.
Placement is problematic for a device that is vibrotactile only. In order to keep her hand on the device, the user must stand back from the crosswalk, and turn toward it after the WALK indication begins.
There has been no research or evaluation regarding the APS either before or after the installations.
Traffic Safety and Engineering
NJ Dept. of Transportation
P.O. Box 613
Trenton, NJ 08625
Phone: (609) 530-2601
E-mail: Timothy.Szwedo@ dot.state.nj.us
Director, Traffic Engineering
Edwards and Kelcey
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