Traffic Restrictions, Signage & Enforcement FAQs
Are Town streets public or private, and who is responsible for traffic control signage?
Town streets are deeded as public streets, and, as such, must be equally accessible to residents and non-residents. The Town is responsible for maintaining the rights-of-way (e.g., streets, sidewalks, and medians) in good condition and for installing and maintaining traffic control signs. The Town controls the content and location of all traffic signs in the Town.
Who controls the signage and signals on roadways surrounding the Town?
Wisconsin Avenue, Connecticut Avenue, East-West Highway, and Bradley Lane are state roadways; therefore, the State Highway Administration (SHA) improves and maintains them. The SHA, in coordination with the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT), controls all traffic control signs and signals on such roadways. The Town engages with the SHA and MCDOT to request modifications or enhancements to signals and signs on these roadways.
How did the Town's current traffic control signage, including entry restriction and permit parking signage, evolve?
The Town's current traffic control signage evolved over many years based on periodic traffic studies, resident requests, and recommendations from the Town's traffic engineer. Parking restrictions have been instituted on Town streets in the western and northern parts of Town given their proximity to downtown Bethesda and the Bethesda Metro and the need to prevent commuters from parking on these streets. Residents may petition the Town to designate streets as permit parking areas. The Town's permit parking regulations are available here.
Will the Town Council continue to study traffic patterns as development continues around the Town?
Yes, the Town Council and staff will monitor the impacts of development on Town and state roadways and determine whether additional traffic studies are needed based on observed and reported changes to existing conditions.
How do I request a speed hump or a traffic control sign?
Residents may request a speed hump or traffic control sign following the Town's established procedures, which are explained in the provided links.
How do I request a radar speed board or LED Stop sign?
Residents may request a radar speed board or LED Stop sign here. Residents also may request placement of the Town's mobile radar speed board on their street by contacting the Town office.
Does the Town use "Local Traffic Only" signs?
The Town has not installed "Local Traffic Only" signs for over 20 years. According to our traffic engineer and our off-duty police officers, such signs are ambiguous and unenforceable, as “local traffic” is not defined. “Through traffic” is an enforceable sign term and applies to all motorists, whereas "Local Traffic Only" signs can be construed to restrict access to Town streets to residents only, and that is not legal given that our streets are public streets.
Who enforces Town traffic laws?
The Town's off-duty police officers enforce Town traffic laws. See below.
How many off-duty police officers does the Town employ, and what are their responsibilities?
The Town employs 16 off-duty Montgomery County officers who, collectively, work an average of 18 hours per day in the Town. Their responsibilities are prescribed by the collective bargaining agreement between Montgomery County and the Fraternal Order of Police. Off-duty officers are allowed to engage in selective enforcement of traffic laws and serve in a watchman/security guard capacity. As such, the Town's off-duty officers detect and deter criminal activity; enforce the Town’s speed limits, parking restrictions, and other traffic laws; and oversee dismissal at schools within the Town. The officers also will respond to 911 calls dispatched within the Town.
Do the Town's off-duty officers issue citations or warnings for violations of Town traffic laws?
The Town's off-duty officers have the discretion to issue citations or warnings for violations of Town traffic laws. The Town cannot dictate how the officers respond to violations that they witness. The officers issue many more warnings than citations; however, officers will issue citations for repeat or egregious violations.
How do I report an ongoing traffic violation or concern?
You may contact the Town office to report a violation that has already occurred, and the Town will ask its off-duty officers to include the location of the violation in their normal enforcement rounds. You may report an ongoing concern to the Town office, and the Town's Public Services Committee (see below) will be asked to address it. It is important to note that the Town has hundreds of traffic control signs within the Town, so enforcement is, by default, complaint-based, and the Town maintains a list of "hot spots," or locations that experience a high number of reported violations, where the officers are asked to maintain a more regular presence.
How do I get involved in decisions about Town traffic regulations?
The Town's Public Services Committee (PSC) makes recommendations to the Town Council about all proposed Town traffic regulations, signage, etc. The PSC meets every month either by Zoom or in-person in the Town Hall. Check the Town's calendar to find specific meeting dates. The PSC meetings are open to the public, and there is a public comment period at all meetings. If you are interested in joining the PSC, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.