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Nearly a decade later, second phase of changes to Oxon Hill Road nears

By Mimi Liu,

Construction to improve safety and bike and pedestrian access on Oxon Hill Road could begin in the spring as part of an agreement with the community to maintain the residential character of the area, Prince George’s County officials said.

Susan Hubbard, a spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Public Works and Transportation, said the county will solicit construction bids this fiscal year, which ends in June.

“We worked hand-in-hand with the community and came up with a final design after feedback from numerous meetings,” she said. “This is what they wanted, and it will retain the residential integrity of the neighborhoods and homes along Oxon Hill Road.”

Hubbard said construction is expected to be completed two years from the start of construction.

The project will include about a 2.5-mile stretch of road from just south of National Harbor to Fort Foote Elementary School. Hubbard said the project will include bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides of the road. Space also will be provided for on-street parking.

Traffic circles will replace several existing signals to improve traffic flow on the road, she said. Residents had requested traffic circles, because lights alone did not alleviate traffic on the road.

Hubbard said the project’s estimated cost is about $14 million, with funding coming from the county’s Capital Improvement Program.

Oxon Hill Road has had a long history of being an unsafe road, said Jim Hudnall, public relations officer for the Oxon Hill Bicycle and Trail Club, an organization that promotes bicycling and bike safety in southern Maryland.

Some parts of Oxon Hill Road, such as the intersection at Panorama Drive, contain dips, curves and hills that drivers tend to speed past, he said.

Hudnall said he and his wife, Jane — Fort Washington residents who live near Oxon Hill Road — have had problems sharing the road with motorists when they have biked. People trying to get to bus stops often have trouble crossing the street with oncoming traffic, he said.

“It will address and affect all kinds of activities on the road — people driving, riding buses, walking, biking — and most importantly, keep the character of the road,” Hudnall said of the project. “We’re very pleased with what Public Works is doing, and we’re looking forward to the road being reconstructed.”

Oxon Hill Road is a county-maintained roadway that extends from Route 414 west of the Capital Beltway to Indian Head Highway (Route 210) that is about 8.5 miles in length.

According to the Department of Public Works and Transportation, there were no pedestrian-involved crashes or fatalities on the road in the past two years, but residents say they have long experienced dangers along the road.

A 2006 report by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments said that Prince George’s County recorded more pedestrian and biker deaths between 1994 and 2003 than Fairfax and Montgomery counties and the District.

The construction work will represent a second phase of changes to Oxon Hill Road. The first phase involved resurfacing the 4.4-mile stretch from Livingston Road to north of Fort Foote Road more than eight years ago, Hubbard said.

Hubbard said the work was divided into two phases because of the length of the road and the costs.

Road improvements are a step closer to making the area a more liveable place for residents, said Bonnie Bick, a resident of Oxon Hill Road and co-founder of the civic group known as the Campaign to Reinvest in the Heart of Oxon Hill.

Motorists take Oxon Hill Road to avoid rush-hour traffic on Route 210, she said.

“The Campaign to Reinvest is thankful that DPW&T is honoring their agreement to keep Oxon Hill Road two lanes,” she wrote in an e-mail, referring to a formal agreement that the county made with the communities about four years ago that Oxon Hill Road would not be widened to more than two lanes. She said the two-lane road helps preserve the residential quality of life in the area.

Hudnall said there were discussions about turning Oxon Hill Road into four lanes in anticipation of heavy National Harbor traffic, but the community rejected those plans.

Bick said the traffic circles would help ease traffic on Oxon Hill Road but added that she would have preferred off-path bike lanes.

She said that she would like to see the Potomac Heritage Trail, part of a network of locally managed trails between the Potomac River and the Allegheny Highlands, run along Oxon Hill Road.

“We have two primary concerns: protecting the value of homes in the community and addressing the rush-hour back-ups,” Bick wrote. “The Potomac Heritage Trail would avoid the need to widen the road. . . . The biggest advantage would be saving the historic character of the road and the value of our homes and our community.”

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