Accommodating Pedestrians in Active Work Zones

City of Raleigh Makes 'Great Strides' with New Guidebook

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Posted: Wednesday, March 9, 2016 9:46 am

The city of Raleigh, N.C., has developed a 36-page guidebook to help developers and construction crews comply with regulations and best practices for accommodating pedestrians in work zones.

"With the increase in construction projects and overall population growth, especially in downtown Raleigh, it is imperative that work sites comply with local, state, and federal guidelines to allow for pedestrian mobility, especially older people and people with disabilities," the guidebook notes.

City officials said the document serves as a translation from technical documents, such as the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), to real world applications for engineers, contractors and citizens.

The document lays out the planning and approval process, provides design examples and resources, and provides examples for the safety and convenience of pedestrians.

Below are some excerpts from the guidebook:

Planning & Design

All projects requiring the use of the public right-of-way for construction or maintenance must be reviewed and approved by city staff. This includes closing the sidewalk for repairs and building maintenance, small projects like a downtown storefront alteration which is adjacent to a public right-of-way, or a major construction project requiring the closure of lanes or sidewalks.

During the planning phase, all ADA and MUTCD requirements must be reviewed and taken into account. It is important to plan for the safety and convenience of pedestrians in any work zone area. This means creating a travel path that reasonably accommodates all pedestrians throughout any project.

To achieve this, consider the following:

• Determine the level of accessibility needed for pedestrians in the Temporary Traffic Control (TTC) zone through observing existing pedestrian travel patterns, and make accommodations prior to the start of work.

• Determine the TTC impact on pedestrians, including significant generators such as schools, community centers, transit stops, and shopping areas.

• Consider meeting with local community organizations (i.e., National Federation of the Blind, city ADA coordinator, etc.) through open houses to address specific concerns and needs.

• Avoid creating pedestrian paths that lead pedestrians into direct conflicts with work site vehicles, equipment, operations, and vehicular traffic moving through or around the work zone.

• Provide a safe, convenient travel path for pedestrians, that replicates the most desirable characteristics of the existing sidewalks or footpaths throughout all phases of construction.

• Ensure that the temporary footpath meets all accessibility features and reasonably accommodates all pedestrians.

• Develop outreach materials that are appropriate for those with specials needs.

• Provide notifications to adjacent property owners and businesses.

• Assess the TTC impact on existing pedestrian flow, and make changes as needed in the field.


Any client that proposes work that affects the sidewalk for longer than 48 hours must provide a Pedestrian Routing Plan. Such a plan can be hand drawn, but must be legible and contain all information requested.

Larger construction projects that affect the sidewalk, parking lanes, and travel lanes will require a Traffic Control Plan that shows all items and accommodations throughout the phasing of the project. An engineered plan is preferred for such projects.

A Traffic Control and Detour Plan as well as a Pedestrian Routing Plan per MUTCD standards and ADA guidelines must be submitted. The guidebook outlines the minimum criteria for the contents of these plans.

Any TTC pedestrian accommodations that utilize a temporary route should clearly define detoured routes and provide advanced signage at intersections rather than mid-block locations. It also separates pedestrians from vehicular traffic and avoids mid-block crossings. Temporary routes should be about the same as the original route and provide clear language to delineate the temporary route. They should also provide continuous access to transit stops and/or relocate transit stops.

By maintaining a continuous, accessible path of travel around or through the construction site during all phases of construction, pedestrians are ensured access to businesses, residences, and transit stops. It will also help ensure compliance with the ADA. The Great Strides guidebook provides some additional methods of doing so.


Plans are submitted for review and approval with the city of Raleigh to the Right-of-Way Services Coordinator.

The Right-of-Way Services Coordinator serves as the liaison between the client and other city staff for meetings, reviews, coordination, and approvals of any project affecting the right-of-way.

Multiple city departments are involved in the review and approval process for right-of-way permits and each has a different role in the approval process. These include Transportation, Building, Parking and Special Events departments.

Detour Options


• Existing or adjacent sidewalks may be used to achieve pedestrian accommodation.

Parking Area

• If a sidewalk cannot be utilized, the on-street or off-street parking area may be an option for pedestrian accommodation. The city does require reimbursement for metered parking spaces at a set rate per day per spot.

• Consider a constructed boardwalk, that routes pedestrians from the sidewalk into the existing on-street parking area and then back onto the sidewalk beyond the limit of operation. The city does require reimbursement for parking spaces and boardwalk protected with a suitable barrier.

Travel Lane

• If no other option exists, the bus lane or travel lane can be utilized for pedestrian accommodations.

• The path may be shifted or restricted from the existing condition while maintaining a parallel route along the project’s limits. This is required where pedestrian activity is heavy and a detour is not a viable option. On-site routing can be accommodated several ways, but is generally operationally driven.

• Routing can be open or structurally covered, on or adjacent to an existing sidewalk, where available.

Off-site Detour

• Pedestrians may be rerouted away from work zones using an alternative route; typically at intersections. This accommodation may be considered based on available facilities, short-term duration, and minimum impact to the pedestrian flow of the corridor.

Auxiliary Location

• A temporary path may be constructed for pedestrian accommodations. The accommodations are for pedestrian use only. Construction logistics will be coordinated to maintain pedestrian travel.

• Another example of a pedestrian routing solution is the temporary path. It allows a safe detour around the work zone during road widening.

Temporary Construction of Accessible Paths

• Scaffolding, tunnels, and containers can provide a separately constructed walkway for pedestrians to get around a site. This is important when construction occurs midblock or at corners, and access to other businesses will be required.

Protective Barriers

Channelizing Devices

The purpose of channelizing devices is to guide traffic and warn drivers of conditions created by work activities in or near the roadway. Examples of channelizing devices include cones, tubular markers, vertical panels, drums, barricades, and longitudinal devices.

Channelizing devices provide for smooth and gradual vehicular traffic flow from one lane to another, onto a bypass or detour, or into a narrower path. They are also used to channelize vehicular traffic away from the work space, pavement drop-offs, pedestrian or shared-use paths, or opposing directions of vehicular traffic.

The guidebook provides several examples of common channelizing devices.

Shipping Containers

Shipping containers have proven to be a convenient alternative; they provide protection while accommodating longer, continuous sections of routing. Containers can be placed directly on the pavement or behind the curb. The guidebook provides a number of considerations when utilizing shipping containers for this purpose.


Construction fencing provides screening that protects the work site from trespassing, and protects pedestrians from dangerous debris.

Overhead Scaffolding

Overhead protection, such as a scaffolding system, is a common method for routing pedestrians. Customizable and relatively quick to put in place and remove, these are ideal for short sections of protection and operations that are short in duration. They provide for easy maintenance of adjacent street signals, and protection for situations where there is overhead construction.

Temporary overhead lighting may be required with the use of scaffolding or tunnels. The electrical code will dictate further specifications.

Safety Measures

Tap Rails

Tap rails and handrails are an easy attachment and must meet the ADA code. They must be between 2” and 8” in height and help guide the visually impaired along the accessible path.

Non-Slip Surfaces

Ramps leading pedestrians into and out of the containers should be well delineated, treated with a non-slip surface, and well-lit.

Beveled Surfaces

Beveled surfaces are smooth connections between joints or separations. The photos depict best practices for minimizing trip hazards

Guidance Signage

Signs alert pedestrians that adjacent businesses are still open and where they may be located.


Tap rails and handrails are an easy attachment and meet the ADA code.


Well lit containers and pedestrian tunnels provide safety. The electrical code specifies when lighting is required with the use of tunnels or scaffolding

Utility and Pedestrian Considerations


Pedestrian accessibility must be achieved during all phases of construction. To ensure this, the guidebook provides a variety of consideration and best practices.

Accessibility to Utilities

Unimpeded accessibility must be maintained with regard to pedestrian signals, red-light camera boxes and emergency access points.

Public Art

The city of Raleigh believes public art can occur everywhere, and encourages organizations, contractors, and individuals to consider the display of public art as a part of their maintenance or construction project. Pedestrian walkways and fencing, among other things, become non-traditional canvases for murals that add vibrancy and enliven work zones.

Public art that will be used as a part of a work zone which falls into the right-of-way requires that the art design be approved by the city’s Arts Commission.


The guidebook offers the following resources for more information on accommodating pedestrians in work zones:

U.S. Access Board

Public Rights-of-Way Accessibility Guidelines

Accessible Design for the Blind

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