Case study — New Jersey DOT — Washington, New Jersey

Date: July 2003

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.

Study by NJ DOT

A project for the installation and evaluation of four types of APS devices at intersections in Morristown, NJ was funded by NJ Highway Traffic Safety and was conducted by Edwards and Kelcey in cooperation with The Seeing Eye. More information is provided in the Appendix on Research.

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.

Date installed

Fall 2000

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 Engineering

APS features:

APS Installation

Figure 9-8. Installation of two pushbuttons on a single pole (only a single push-button is visible in the photo). While the push-button is in line with the crosswalk, the pedestrian must travel over 10 feet before reaching the street and the beginning of the crosswalk.

APS were installed at all crosswalks to provide the signal information at all possible crossings used by the blind person. It is a state standard to put two push buttons on the same pole, with no stand-alone pole for the APS. This meant that some devices were located a distance from the beginning of the crosswalk. Because the only WALK indication was vibrotactile, the WALK interval was lengthened to provide time for a pedestrian who is visually impaired to reach the departure curb after the WALK began.

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 (Draft PROWAG) 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 Draft PROWAG recommendations also encourage installation of devices on two poles separated by at least 3 meters. If separation is not possible, Draft PROWAG 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.


Figure 9-9. APS mounted on signal pole for crossing signalized right turn lane. Pedestrian who is blind is waiting with her hand on the pushbutton for the vibrotactile WALK indication. After the WALK indication begins, she must turn, and cross the sidewalk before beginning to cross the street.

There are no reports of complaints or comments received from the general public or individuals in the community. In some other installations, there have been complaints due to the locator tone increasing due to the traffic noise and bothering the people that live close to the intersection.

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 an orientation and 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.


Tim Szwedo
Traffic Safety and Engineering
NJ Dept. of Transportation
P.O. Box 613
Trenton, NJ 08625
Phone: (609) 530-2601
E-mail: Timothy.Szwedo@

Paul Vetter
Director, Traffic Engineering
Edwards and Kelcey

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