Officials, residents concerned with crosswalks near Cheverly thoroughfare
Officials focus on sites near Route 50
Jo Bender travels three crosswalks en route to her Cheverly home after 12-hour shifts as an emergency room nurse. Two of those crosswalks pass ramps to a highway: MD Route 50.
Bender said she is scared to face the oncoming traffic that makes left turns from Columbia Park Road onto the Route 50 West entrance ramp. Though drivers must yield to pedestrians on a green traffic light, some may travel too fast to see someone in the crosswalk.
"It's just too much for one intersection," Bender, 53, said.
Cheverly residents and town officials did a morning walk Friday where they crossed the Columbia Park Road bridge over Route 50 outlining pedestrian and motorist safety concerns such as traffic and crossing signal timing that town administrator David Warrington hopes to bring before the county's Department of Public Works and Transportation and the Maryland State Highway Administration two agencies that own sections of Columbia Park Road in a meeting by early October.
Susan Hubbard, a spokeswoman for the county's Department of Public Works and Transportation, wrote in a Monday e-mail that any signals on Route 50 would be under the SHA jurisdiction. She said the county maintains 1.7 miles of the road from the train tracks beyond 64th Avenue to Martin Luther King Jr. Highway. She said DPWT has nothing on record from the town with complaints about the traffic and signal issues.
Mayor Michael Callahan, Public Works Director Juan Torres and Warrington observed three problem areas: The intersection of Columbia Park Road, Cheverly Avenue and the Route 50 West entrance ramp; the crosswalk at the Route 50 East exit ramp and the Cheverly Metro entrance at Columbia Park Road.
Torres said one of his suggestions for the Columbia Park Road, Cheverly Avenue and Route 50 West entrance ramp intersection is to do an "all-stop" where in 15 seconds, for example, all traffic would halt for pedestrians to cross. Currently some crosswalks are timed for 25 seconds of crossing time while others are as long as 90 seconds.
Shortly after 8 a.m. Friday, town officials observed Cheverly residents walking and biking from the town entrance to the Columbia Park Road bridge to the Cheverly Metro Station. Even with a glowing white walk signal indicating it was safe to cross, residents still hustled over the crosswalk near the Route 50 West entrance ramp because there were drivers who still had a green light to make a left turn on the entrance ramp to the highway.
Diane La Voy, a 24-year Cheverly resident, said to cross the bridge safely she must start walking just before the walk sign comes on because if she waited until it came on she would be in danger of a car turning left onto the Columbia Park Road bridge from Cheverly Avenue.
"When you get a cross sign it's like getting a little target on your back," La Voy said.
Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Dist. 47) of Cheverly stood next to La Voy and said she can sympathize with the drivers who wait in a queue during rush hour traffic to make the left turn La Voy mentioned. However she said she believes there's a way to accommodate both pedestrians and drivers.
Ivey, who is running for re-election said she and Del. Victor Ramirez (D-Dist. 47) of Cheverly, who is running for the District 47 senator seat, typically meet twice a year with the State Highway Administration to talk about priority traffic areas in their district. She said this area needs to make their list but when it comes to a solution it's all comes down to coordination between the county's DPWT and SHA.
"It depends on how loud you scream," Ivey said. "It's a matter of getting the right people to talk to the right people and not letting it fall off your radar screen."
Chuck Gischlar, an SHA spokesman, said they have sent engineers to adjust traffic signals in that area in the past and can send traffic engineers to review the Route 50 crossings again. However, he said it is also up to the drivers to be more aware of pedestrians in the crosswalks.
"It's important to note that motorists in the area have to be cognizant that it's a high pedestrian area," Gischlar said.
Cheverly resident Rob Hanson, 39, rides his double seat bike for his two children who attend Cheverly's Judith P. Hoyer Montessori School and said riding conditions are "less than ideal" because of the amount of traffic going over Route 50 but he prefers walking or biking to driving.
"I generally feel safe as a cyclist and pedestrian," Hanson said. "The timing of the lights I've figured out."