Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett announced that construction of pedestrian safety and traffic calming improvements has been completed on Arcola Avenue between Hoyt Street and Kemp Mill Road in Wheaton. The innovative pedestrian protection improvements installed were successfully used last year by the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (DOT) on Connecticut Avenue, where motorist speeds were reduced by about 10 miles per hour (mph).
“Engineering improvements are critical tools for transforming Montgomery County into a more pedestrian-friendly community,” said Leggett. “DOT is demonstrating that innovative approaches can calm traffic and increase pedestrian safety and comfort. This project is just one of the many things we are doing to reduce pedestrian-related crashes, injuries and fatalities and ensure safe and convenient travel options for our pedestrians.”
The improvement project reduces the number of travel lanes on the roadway to calm traffic and enhance pedestrian safety. For Arcola, the four-lane road has been reduced to one lane in each direction. DOT has installed concrete pedestrian refuge islands, which are areas between lanes of traffic where pedestrians may safely wait. The refuge islands not only help calm traffic, but also reduce the crossing distance for pedestrians. DOT has also installed bump-outs, which extend the curb, also giving pedestrians a shorter distance to cross the road.
“As the school year begins and our children begin their walks to school, I am excited that we are committing the additional resources needed to protect pedestrians and implement the recommendations of the Pedestrian Safety Initiative,” said Montgomery County Councilmember Valerie Ervin. “Traffic calming measures, such as those implemented on Arcola Avenue, help to create safe and walkable communities, which decrease our dependence on automobiles, improve the environment, and create a sense of place.”
Other pedestrian safety enhancements include the addition of a two-way center turn lane; relocation of bus stops; and repositioning and striping of crosswalks. Some signs and lighting were enhanced to better accommodate senior motorists and pedestrians.
Over the last two years, DOT has met with the community a number of times to discuss the types of traffic and pedestrian improvements needed. The traffic calming and pedestrian safety plan was presented to the local community last year, and DOT staff held another meeting with the community on June 26 to brief residents on the construction schedule.
“The paved roads, dedicated bus stop sites, and newly painted pedestrian crossing points have made a wonderful improvement to the busy Kemp Mill neighborhood,” said Alec Stone, former president of the Kemp Mill Civic Association. Residents feel the ‘road diet’ has helped calm the traffic and hope the morning congestion will be greatly relieved. The County was responsive to the community's requests and has worked well with us to find a safe and attractive solution.”
DOT analyzed traffic patterns along Arcola Avenue and found that one lane in each direction between Kemp Mill Road and University Boulevard was adequate to handle traffic demand during peak hours. Construction took about six weeks to complete.
Last year, DOT installed similar pedestrian protection measures along Connecticut Avenue between Bel Pre Road and Grand Pre Road. The road was narrowed to one lane in each direction and pedestrian refuge islands and bump-outs were added at key locations along with new signs and markings. DOT has monitored the site and found increased compliance by motorists yielding to pedestrians at the crosswalk.
This is the last of five events that Leggett held during the first two weeks in September to highlight pedestrian safety and the progress the County is making on its pedestrian safety priorities. Leggett designated the week of September 1 as “Pedestrian Safety Week” in Montgomery County.
For more information about the County’s Pedestrian Safety program, go to www.montgomerycountymd.gov/walk or call 240-777-7170.
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Media Contact: Esther Bowring, 240-777-6507
Program Details: 240-777-7170
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