Maryland to lower speed limit, expand speed cameras on troubled stretch of Route 1

Maryland transportation officials said Monday they are lowering the speed limit on a portion of roadway in College Park where several pedestrians have been struck and killed in the past several months.

The State Highway Administration plans to lower the speed limit along U.S. Route 1 between Guilford Road/Guilford Drive and Berwyn Road to 25 mph from 30 mph, by Aug. 1.

The agency also is installing a fence in the Route 1 median between Knox and Hartwick Roads to deter pedestrians from  crossing outside the crosswalks. And this fall it will add a pedestrian signal at the U.S. 1 and Hartwick Road intersection.

In another effort to improve safety in the area, the College Park City Council is expected to vote this week on a proposal to expand the hours of operation for speed cameras in the area.

The efforts are in response to a surge in pedestrian fatalities in the downtown College Park area, a highly transited stretch with many University of Maryland students. Earlier this month a 21-year-old woman who had just graduated from college was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver as she walked in the 7600 block of Baltimore Avenue. The 3 a.m. incident occurred in the same stretch of roadway where two other pedestrians were killed in separate incidents earlier this year.


Median fencing from Hartwick Road to Knox Road along Route 1 in College Park. (Maryland State Highway Administration)

Maryland, Prince George’s County, College Park, and university officials announced the changes as a collaborative effort they say will enhance travel safety and prevent any more fatalities. They urged road users to be more cautious.

“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,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh.

College Park Mayor Andrew M. Fellows said, “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.”

A new pedestrian safety campaign, Walk Smart College Park, will target U.-Md. students with information about safe walking and crossing practices.  College Park and university police will deploy more officers to enforce the new speed limit and conduct sobriety checkpoints. The latest fatal incidents reportedly involved alcohol use by either the pedestrian or the driver, officials said.

Luz Lazo writes about transportation and development. She has recently written about the challenges of bus commuting, Metro’s dark stations, and the impact of sequestration on air travel.
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