COLLEGE PARK, Md., July 14, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Emphasizing partnership and commitment to combat a recent increase in pedestrians fatalities, Maryland State Highway Administrator Melinda B. Peters and University of Maryland President Wallace Loh, County Councilman Eric Olson, College Park Mayor Andrew M. Fellows, joined by University Police Chief David B. Mitchell, today announced a series of safety improvements and a public education campaign to enhance pedestrian safety along U.S. 1 (Baltimore Ave.) in College Park.
- By August 1, the State Highway Administration (SHA) will lower the speed limit along U.S. 1 between Guilford Road/Guilford Drive and Berwyn Road from 30 to 25 mph.
- By the end of August, SHA will install a temporary median fence along U.S. 1 between Knox and Hartwick roads to deter mid-block pedestrian crossings.
- By late October, SHA will install an overhead pedestrian signal at the U.S. 1 and Hartwick Road intersection. Similar to the signals along U.S. 1 at Fraternity Row and Paint Branch Parkway, it will flash yellow to U.S. 1 vehicular traffic and flash red to Hartwick Road traffic except when a pedestrian pushes the walk button; the signal will turn to solid red in all directions to stop traffic and allow pedestrians to safely cross the intersection.
- Tuesday, July 15 the College Park City Council will vote on Mayor Fellows' proposal to enforce the new lower speed limit by expanding the times speed cameras operate to coincide with heavy pedestrian periods on U.S. 1 in downtown College Park.
"These are important actions that will increase pedestrian safety along this stretch of U.S. 1," said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. "The State Highway Administration, University, City and County have worked together to re-engineer traffic. Now I urge drivers and pedestrians to do their part."
"Pedestrian fatalities on Route 1 and anywhere in Prince George's County are unacceptable," said Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III. "The Prince George's County government is committed to work with the state along with our local partners and stakeholders to enhance and accelerate infrastructure improvements while focusing on public safety enforcement, education, and engagement."
"The Route 1 Corridor improvement effort underway helps to improve the safety and quality of life for those living in College Park – students and long-term residents, and for those who visit our community," said College Park Mayor Andrew M. Fellows. "Coupled with enforcement and education, the students, residents and visitors will be better equipped to safely cross Baltimore Avenue, and drivers will be more aware of the heavy foot traffic on Route One, our Main Street."
"Pedestrian safety is critical in downtown College Park. I want to thank the State Highway Administration for implementing these improvements," said Prince George's County Councilman Eric Olson. "This collaborative effort between University of Maryland officials, the City of College Park, State officials, law enforcement, and Prince George's County, working with SHA, will enhance the safety of all traveling U.S. 1. We will continue to work together to improve the walkabilty of U.S. 1."
The University of Maryland, University of Maryland Police Department, the City College Park and SHA also announced an upcoming pedestrian safety education campaign: Walk Smart College Park that includes partnering with local restaurants and taverns. The primary goal is to educate University of Maryland students about the rules of the road and safe walking and crossing practices along off-campus public roads such as U.S. 1.
"SHA is making engineering changes along U.S. 1 to enhance pedestrian safety and the university and county police are aggressively enforcing jaywalking, drunk driving and traffic laws. As students walk along Baltimore Avenue, it is critical to look up, stay alert, use marked crosswalks and follow the pedestrian signal indications," said Administrator Peters. "At the same time, we remind drivers to be alert along U.S. 1 - to follow the posted speed limit and stop for pedestrians. By following the rules of the road and looking out for each other, we can prevent crashes and save lives."
Since spring, SHA already has made significant modifications to signage (for drivers and pedestrians), crosswalks and signal timing to enhance pedestrian safety. Recent improvements to enhance pedestrian safety include:
- Reduced pedestrian wait times at "Walk/Don't Walk" signals and increasing crossing time
- Made pedestrian walk signs automatic, not requiring a person to press a button
- Installed "Don't Cross" markings along curb line on sidewalk along U.S. 1 to remind pedestrians to not cross mid-block and use cross-walks with the walk signal
- Installed "No Pedestrian" signs in the medians facing sidewalks
- Refreshed all crosswalk pavement markings at intersections
- Installed "State Law - Stop for Pedestrians in Crosswalks" signs between Paint Branch Parkway and Calvert Road
The City of College Park and University Police will deploy officers to strictly enforce the new speed limit, as well as conduct sobriety checkpoints and patrols to combat drunk driving. Unfortunately the latest incidents along U.S. 1 have reportedly involved alcohol use by either the pedestrian or the driver. University of Maryland Police Department and Prince George's County Police Department and other neighboring jurisdictions have deployed sobriety checkpoints, saturation patrols and other enforcement efforts to deter, catch and remove drunk drivers along U.S. 1 and surrounding roadways. These efforts are partially funded by the Maryland Highway Safety Office, as well as through regular departmental time. They will continue to work together in such efforts in the future.
SOURCE University of Maryland