Median Barrier

Usage: Limited

A Raised Median or Pedestrian Safety Island extended through an intersection to prevent turns and through-movements to and from the intersecting street. Pedestrian access can be maintained with pedestrian refuges and bike access with gaps in the median. As with typical raised medians, trees or plantings can be included within the median barrier.

click to see the enlarged image
Grand Concourse, Bronx


  • Reduces or eliminates short-cut and cut-through traffic
  • When applied consistently to an area, reduces traffic speeds
  • Can green and beautify the streetscape with trees and/or vegetation, improving environmental quality and potentially incorporating stormwater source controls
  • Enhances pedestrian safety by discouraging dangerous mid-block crossings
  • Enhances safety at the intersection by reducing potential vehicle movements and conflicts, particularly left turns
  • Reduces risk of vehicle head-on collisions
  • Reduces risk of motorists running a red light or stop sign when approaching from side street
  • Calms traffic on side street by requiring turn and on major street by narrowing roadway
  • Enhances pedestrian safety and accessibility by reducing crossing distances and providing refuge for pedestrians to cross the road in stages


  • May impact street drainage or require catch basin relocation
  • May impact underground utilities
  • Emergency vehicle access needs must be accommodated
  • Landscaping (excluding street trees) or stormwater source controls require a partner for ongoing maintenance, including executing a maintenance agreement. If there is a maintenance partner, design should consider the inclusion of irrigation system for long term maintenance
  • If outfitted to capture stormwater, careful consideration must be given to design, overflow control, and plant species


  • Consider on local streets with speeding or cut-through/short-cutting problems
  • One-way or two-way local streets at their intersections with two-way collector or arterial roadways


See design guidance for Raised Medians

  • Design median barriers to impact motor vehicle movement but not bike movement; utilize bike channels or similar design strategies to allow passage by cyclists
  • Include planted areas and stormwater source controls within median barriers wherever possible when a maintenance partner is identified
  • Include street trees, plantings, and unpaved or permeable surfaces wherever safe and feasible, using structural soil where appropriate. See Tree Beds and Raised Median (Curb Height) in the Landscape chapter and Pervious Concrete in the Materials chapter
  • If work includes tree planting, consider the location of utility infrastructure, including DEP sewers and water mains
  • Design any planted areas within median barrier so as to capture stormwater according to current standards