Median islands are typically installed to perform a traffic engineering function; e.g., channelize through-traffic, limit left turn movements, protect left turn pockets, etc. Additional features such as street lighting and informational signs are often incorporated, as is landscape beautification, which can also include light-mounted banners, architectural signs, and other features. In many cases, however, the function of these features conflict with frontage land uses. A typical mismatch occurs when tall shrubs and/or dense, low branching evergreen trees are planted within a commercial area, blocking cross-street views of storefronts, pedestrian crosswalks, and other district features.
Median design elements should be designed as part of an overall vision that incorporates frontage land use, development, and sidewalk improvements, consistent with Guideline 5.2.1 above. In general, median design elements should allow for side-to-side corridor visibility. Median islands should be considered as aesthetic elements in their own right, incorporating low planter walls, attractive light fixtures, and other design approaches that make them more than leftover roadway space. Figures 5-11a and 5-11b on the following page illustrate typical median cross-sections.