Curb Extensions for Safety and Transit Access

Arlington County, Virginia
Source: Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC)


Heavy traffic and high vehicle speeds made it difficult for pedestrians to cross Wilson and Clarendon Boulevards near Court House Station on the Metrorail Orange line.


Curb extension and crosswalk on Wilson Boulevard.

In the summer of 1999, the Arlington County Department of Public Works launched a Pedestrian Initiative in the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor, a high density, mixed-use area within the County. The Initiative was developed as a response to direct public interest in street improvements around this corridor and Countywide concern for overall pedestrian safety.

The corridor is served by five underground Metrorail Orange line stations as well as Wilson and Clarendon Boulevards, surface arterials that form a one-way couplet, each of which were comprised of three lanes prior to the pedestrian initiative. The initiative envisioned a series of small projects to improve conditions for pedestrians. Heavy traffic and high vehicle speeds made it difficult for pedestrians to cross each of the roadways to reach the nearby transit station. The first project reduced the number of vehicle travel lanes on these roadways from three to two, which created space for the construction of curb extensions.


Clarendon Boulevard and North Wayne intersection, where a conflict with delivery vehicles was eliminated.

In the fall of 2000, Arlington County built seven curb extensions on major roads within 500 ft of the Court House Metrorail station. The station has 11,000 to 12,000 users per day, and 80 percent of these people arrive by foot. Thousands of people work in the Court House area and walk to the numerous restaurants and other services in the area. The curb extensions were intended to improve pedestrian safety by shortening crossing distances, calming traffic, and providing more visible crossing points for pedestrians. In addition, the curb extensions left space for transit buses to pull to the side of the roadway out of the travel lanes rather than on the edge of the travel lane to load and unload passengers. Higher-visibility ladder crosswalks were installed to supplement the curb extensions. Strong yellow-green pedestrian crossing warning signs and new "Yield to Pedestrians, $100 to $500 Fine for Violations" signs were also installed.

Finally, the pedestrian initiative eliminated an unneeded driveway that intersected the 15th Street sidewalk and addressed the problem of stopped delivery vehicles blocking the crosswalk at Clarendon Boulevard and N. Wayne Street.

Subsequent work by the County in the same general area included restriping the roadways to establish marked bicycle lanes, upgrades to bus stops including new passenger waiting areas and curb ramp and sidewalk modifications to enhance compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidance. Additional curb extensions, ramps, bike lanes and bus stop improvements have been implemented throughout the County with priority on improvements based upon proximity to Metrorail stations.


The total project, which included the curb extensions, crosswalk markings, and pedestrian crossing warning signs, cost approximately $50,000. Before and after measures of pedestrian conditions are not available, but Arlington County staff and others report a noticeable increase in the number of cars yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks in the Court House Area. Community reaction has been very positive and County Board members have commented that the project provides a good example of how a relatively small expenditure can result in clear improvements for pedestrian safety and comfort.


Richard Viola
Planning Section Supervisor
Arlington County Department of Environmental Services
#1 Courthouse Plaza, Suite 900

2100 Clarendon Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22201
Office Phone: (703) 228-3681

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