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Maryland Department of Transportation
State Highway Administration
Accessibility Policy & Guidelines for
Pedestrian Facilities along State Highways
December 2005

Protruding Objects

Protruding objects into sidewalks can cause many challenges to the person with a disability, especially a person who is blind. These objects may consist of utility poles, mailboxes, signal poles, signal boxes, signs, etc. A protruding object (control box, sign, etc.) that is mounted to a fixed structure, shall be mounted in the following manner: (See Figure 5).


The figure above shows:

  • Objects mounted between 27” and 80” above the ground cannot extend more than 4” from the fixed structure into the sidewalk.
  • Objects mounted either below 27” or above 80” may extend more than 12” from the fixed structure into the sidewalk.

At the same time, the designer shall provide a minimum 36” / desirable 60” corridor for pedestrian passage. In many circumstances, the designer is challenged with finding locations for utility poles, signal cabinets, mailboxes, etc. outside of the pedestrian space. There are many ways to deal with these objects and acquiring additional right-of-way may be necessary. Acceptable access at isolated pinch points may be provided at a width of 32” minimum. Additionally, the following criteria should be followed, but again each case is different and must be evaluated independently using sound judgment.

It is preferred that above ground utilities be located behind the sidewalk. If space behind the sidewalk is not available, utilities may be located within a hardscape or green space corridor between the face of the curb and sidewalk. AASHTO requires a minimum 18” from curb face to utility pole. If signs, poles or other obstacles must be located in the sidewalk, they should be placed, where it is reasonable and feasible to do so, either right or left of center to provide a consistent utility corridor. Special sidewalk treatments (brick pavers, stamped concrete) are recommended to provide a different surface texture to differentiate between the utility corridor and sidewalk.

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Revised: June 18, 2008