Thursday, August 29, 2013

State begins safety and resurfacing project on Georgia Avenue/MD97

The Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) has begun a $4.6 million safety and resurfacing project along nearly two miles of MD97 (Georgia Avenue) from the Washington, D.C. line to MD390 (16th Street) in Silver Spring. Weather Permitting, the work will be completed by late fall. Motorists and pedestrians traveling in this area should plan ahead, add extra commute time and be aware of shifting traffic and walking patterns.

The work will:
  • Reconstruct existing sidewalks to ensure they meet ADA standards and are at least five feet wide;
  • Repair and replace existing inlets and pipes;
  • Patch damaged sections of pavement prior to resurfacing;
  • Install new curb and gutter;
  • Resurfacing Georgia Avenue;
  • Replace traffic signal pavement detectors at the intersection of MD 97 and MD 390; and
  • Install new line striping and pavement markings.
SHA's contractor is permitted to close one lane of Georgia Avenue in both directions weekdays between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. and up to two lanes overnight Sunday through Thursday, between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Drivers are urged to stay alert and look for reduced speed limits, narrow driving lanes and highway workers. For more information, see SHA's press release.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Back to School Safety Tips from the Department of Fire and Rescue Services

With school back in session, Fire Chief Charlie Lohr urges motorists to "Slow Down, Watch Out. Kids Ahead!"  His department offers a series of Back to School Safety Tips

For Drivers 
• Be alert and slow down. Eliminate any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings. Put down your phone and never text while driving. Looking away from the roadway for just two seconds doubles the chance of being involved in a crash.
• Passengers should wear a seat belt and/or ride in an age and size-appropriate car safety seat or booster seat. Children of all ages are safest when properly restrained in the backseat of a vehicle.
• Exercise extra caution as you head out to work and be on the lookout for school buses. Many bus routes or schedules change each year and you may encounter a school bus or stop where you may have never seen one before.
• Scan between parked cars. Nearly 40 percent of child pedestrian fatalities occurred between the hours of 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., mostly at non-intersection locations, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Children can quickly dart out between parked cars or other objects along the roadway. Motorists should pay close attention not only at intersections, but along any residential roadways where children could be present.
• Take extra time when making a right turn on a red light and be on the lookout for pedestrians.
• School Zones: Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods and around schools. Be alert to children as you back your vehicle out of your driveway or exit your garage.
• Expect delays near schools, plan ahead and allow extra time to reach your destination.
• Safety on the road is especially important for “new” drivers that may be driving to school for the first time.

For Parents and Children 
• Be realistic about your child’s pedestrian skills. Children are not always aware of their surroundings and may dart into traffic assuming drivers will see and stop for them. Carefully consider whether your child is ready to walk to school or wait for the bus without adult supervision and walk the route with your child beforehand.
• Teach children to always cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks and look left, right and left again before crossing. Children may have difficulty gauging the distance and speed of an approaching car, and may not recognize and react to potentially hazardous situations.
• If traveling to school by bike, obey the rules of the road and wear a helmet. Not only is it the smart thing to do, it is also the law in Maryland.
• Be sure that your child knows his or her phone number and address, your work number and when to call 911 for emergencies.
• Only drive or park in authorized areas when picking up or dropping off students at school.
• Be a good neighbor. Respect private property and always be on your best behavior while waiting for the bus.

See DFRS's press release for other safety information affecting kids.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Seven Locks sidewalk project adds to County's pedestrian infrastructure

MCDOT’s Division of Transportation Engineering recently installed a mile and a quarter of new sidewalk along Seven Locks Road. In response to a request from the president of the Montgomery Square Civic Association, MCDOT replaced a series of asphalt and dirt paths between Montrose Road and Tuckerman Lane. This project included the installation of ADA compliant ramps, selected driveway aprons, and new, five foot wide concrete sidewalk panels.

This sidewalk project, costing about $270,000, provides a safe and convenient connection for pedestrians to synagogues, churches, retail stores, and other activity centers. MCDOT’s Sidewalk Program provides such funding to expand the sidewalk network throughout the county. Concurrently, the Division of Highway Services is also resurfacing this same segment of Seven Locks Road. They will be milling and patching the pavement where needed, applying a layer of hot mix asphalt, then re-striping the road. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Federal and County Officials Urge Parents to Talk About Safely Getting to School

by Aaron Kraut 

Federal and county officials on Thursday urged parents and students to think about safe driving and walking to school before the MCPS school year starts on Aug. 26.  Click here to view a video of the event.  
Deborah Hersman, acting chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D), Montgomery County Police Capt. Tom Didone and MCPS Director of Transportation Todd Watkins spoke at the Fitzgerald Auto Mall in North Bethesda about the dangers kids face on the roads once the school year starts.
The dealership and service center was hosting one of its regular car seat check events, in which Fitzgerald founder Jack Fitzgerald said volunteers and police have checked more than 44,000 car seats for proper fit and safety.
Safe Kids Montgomery County demonstrated how to safely cross a street with basic tips Van Hollen said often go unmentioned before the first day of school.
“That is the responsibility of the communities and families and students to work together,” Van Hollen said. “As our kids head off to school and they’re back looking for all sorts of supplies for school, [make sure] that we also supply them with the information that they need and their families with the information they need to make sure that they’re safe.”
In Bethesda, pedestrian safety around Bethesda Elementary School has been an issue since February, when a child in a stroller crossing an Arlington Road crosswalk was struck and dragged by a car making a turn. The child was uninjured.
A group of parents at the school started a petition for better markings, “No Turn on Red” signs and speed cameras in and around the intersection of Arlington Road and Edgemoor Lane.

A group of transit and pedestrian advocates followed with 10 recommendations to the Montgomery County Department of Transportation for new traffic engineering measures.
Didone, who heads the police department’s Traffic Division, said police this year have shifted their focus from changing pedestrians’ behavior to changing drivers’ behavior. The department has recently done a number of undercover stings in popular crosswalks to ticket drivers who don’t yield. Officers ran the operation on Wednesday at the Cordell Avenue crosswalk on Old Georgetown Road.
“The one unique thing about this is every time a car and a pedestrian try to occupy the same space, the pedestrian loses every time,” Didone said. “It’s the largest winning streak that’s ever occurred. As such, every one of those crashes is potentially life-threatening so every one of those crashes has to be addressed.
The Action Committee for Transit, which issued the recommendations to the county, on Thursday complimented Didone’s and police for their work. But the group claimed the Department of Transportation was still behind when it comes to engineering safe roads and intersections for pedestrians around schools.
“Traffic engineers need remedial education even more than schoolchildren,” ACT President Tina Slater said in the release. ”In our county, speed limits are too high, lanes are too wide, crosswalks aren’t marked, and unsafe turns are allowed. Cars should move no faster than 20 mph in school zones.”
Besides lowering speed limits in school zones, ACT is asking the county to consider leading pedestrian intervals at intersections — which would give pedestrians an exclusive window to cross in all directions — and more “No Turn on Red” signs.
Didone said the county is adequately dealing with the situation with a combination of engineering, education and enforcement.
“We are fortunate in Montgomery County, our Department of Transportation is on top of this,” Didone said. “Whenever we go into a problem area, we always start with looking to see those engineering changes — signs, signals, markings, changing the design of the roadway to enhance pedestrian safety.”
Watkins, who oversees the school system’s bus network, reminded drivers to stop when school buses are flashing lights and have stop sign extensions out.
The county recently installed cameras on some buses to catch drivers who maneuver around the buses stopped at bus stops.
“When you see a stopped school bus on the road, no matter how late you are, no matter how much of a hurry you’re in, stop,” Watkins said. “Because every time somebody makes a decision to pass a stopped school bus, it’s a potentially life-changing tragedy for some student and their family.”

Monday, August 12, 2013

Officials and Community Celebrate Completion of Shady Grove Access Bike Path

County Executive Leggett, left, poses with members of the community and Bruce Johnston, right, MCDOT division chief
County Executive Leggett, left, with members of the community and Bruce Johnston, right, MCDOT division chief at new bikeway
Coming BikeSharing program also noted

County Executive Leggett recently celebrated the completion of the 10-foot wide Shady Grove Metro Access Bike Path. It improves bike access to the Metro Station and facilitates combining bicycle trips with buses, Metro, and walking. The bike path also connects to other area sidewalks and bikeways, including along Crabbs Branch Way. MCDOT is planning to add a bikeway along Needwood Road, connecting to the Rock Creek and ICC trails.

The $2.7 million project was constructed by DOT’s Division of Transportation Engineering, and runs from Shady Grove Road to Redland Road. A pedestrian-activated traffic signal was installed where the bikeway crosses the Metro access road.

To further enhance biking, the County will soon be installing a bike share station at the Metro --part of a network of over 50 stations in Shady Grove, Rockville, Bethesda, downtown Silver Spring and Takoma Park.
For more information on bicycle projects and bike sharing, visit our MCDOT's website or call for projects,240.777.7244, and for bike sharing, 240.777.7170

Friday, August 9, 2013

SHA Completes Resurfacing on MD 355 in Bethesda beginning this Sunday Night

Motorists Should Expect Traffic Impacts on Wisconsin Avenue Through Late Fall

Travelers in Bethesda will have a smoother ride by late fall as construction crews complete the final phase of pavement resurfacing on two sections of MD 355 as part of two ongoing safety projects.   Beginning this Sunday night, August 11, the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) will resurface several sections of MD 355 (Wisconsin Avenue) in Bethesda, Montgomery County. The total cost of the two projects, which are approximately 1.5 miles apart, is $2.9 million. Weather permitting, the projects should both be complete by late fall.

SHA will resurface one mile of MD 355 from Montgomery Avenue to Jones Bridge Road and more than a mile of MD 355 from the Washington, D.C. line and MD 191 (Bradley Boulevard).  The project will improve conditions for motorists and pedestrians on MD 355 in the heart of Bethesda. To date, curb and gutter, sidewalk, ADA-compliant sidewalk ramps, drainage improvements and traffic signal adjustments have been completed on both projects.  Crews will also replace the signal systems at Wisconsin Circle and Battery Lane.

“The final surface, new sidewalks and improved drainage provide a refreshed and safer corridor for those who live and work in the area,” said SHA Administrator Melinda B. Peters. . “We thank motorists and pedestrians for their patience as crews work to complete these projects.”

During resurfacing on both projects, crews may close up to two lanes on MD 355, overnight Sunday through Thursday, between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. and one lane, Monday through Friday, between 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. All work is weather permitting.

As part of the resurfacing work on both projects, SHA will remove the top layer of pavement, patch, grind and resurface all lanes, reconstruct traffic signals at Battery Lane and Wisconsin Circle and apply new pavement markings. The traffic signal reconstruction work at Battery Lane and Wisconsin Circle will add audible countdown signals (APS) and countdown pedestrian signals (CPS) to each intersection. New mast arms and signal heads will be installed at the reconstructed signal at Wisconsin Circle.

On average, 67,000 vehicles travel daily within the limits of both projects inside the Wisconsin Avenue corridor in Bethesda. SHA’s contractor for the work is M. Luis Construction Company of Baltimore, which will coordinate lanes closures between both projects.

SHA will maintain access for pedestrians and residents during the road work for both projects. Residents and travelers are advised that equipment used for construction can be loud and disruptive.

Motorists should make alternate parking arrangements along MD 355 within the project limits through late fall as parking will be temporarily unavailable during resurfacing work within the work zones. The pair of resurfacing projects are located along the same MD 355 corridor where SHA is currently working to complete utility relocations for a Bethesda Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) project between Cedar Lane and Jones Bridge Road.

This project was made possible with funding from the Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act of 2013, which maintains crucial system preservation investments and allows Maryland to activate long-term strategies to invest in Maryland’s transportation systems. By putting people back to work in the transportation industry with $4.4 billion in new investments in the next six years, Maryland is creating hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity and providing Marylanders with the transportation infrastructure necessary to grow and prosper for decades to come.

As crews work to keep work zones safe, each driver needs to actively modify his or her driving style to help prevent crashes. Stay alert – look for reduced speed limits, narrow driving lanes and highway workers. Slow down and don’t follow too closely. Safer Driving. Safer Work Zones. For Everyone!

State begins safety and resurfacing project on Georgia Avenue/MD 97

The Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) has begun a $4.6 million safety and resurfacing project along nearly two miles of MD 97 (Georgia Avenue) from the Washington, D.C. line to MD 390 (16th Street) in Silver Spring.  Weather permitting, the work will be completed by late fall, 2013.  Motorists and pedestrians traveling in this area should plan ahead, add extra commute time, and be aware of shifting traffic and walking patterns.

The work includes:
• Reconstructing existing sidewalks to five feet wide to become ADA-compliant;
• Repairing, replacing existing inlets and pipes;
• Concrete patching of sections of damaged pavement prior to resurfacing;
• Installing new curb and gutter;
• Resurfacing Georgia Avenue;
• Replacing traffic signal pavement detectors at the intersection of MD 97 and MD 390;
• Installing new line striping and pavement markings.

SHA’s contractor is permitted to close one lane in both directions of Georgia Ave., weekdays, between 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and up to two lanes overnight, Sunday through Thursday, between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. 

SHA will use electronic message boards, temporary fencing, construction cones and barrels, arrow boards and flaggers to direct motorists through the work zone. As crews work to keep work zones safe, each driver needs to actively modify his or her driving style to help prevent crashes. Stay alert – look for reduced speed limits, narrow driving lanes and highway workers.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Leggett Celebrates Pedestrian Safety Improvements in Wheaton; Thanks Wheaton Pedestrian Volunteers for their Efforts to Educate Public

Leggett Celebrates Reedie Streetscape Project and Thanks Pedestrian Safety Volunteers
County Executive Isiah Leggett Celebrates Completion of Pedestrian Safety Improvements on Reedie Drive and Thanks Pedestrian Safety Volunteers
New crosswalk on Reedie DriveOn August 6, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett today celebrated the completion of pedestrian safety improvements on Reedie Drive between Veirs Mill Road and Georgia Avenue in Wheaton that were installed by the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT). This 800-foot stretch of road was targeted because it was designated as one of the County’s “High Incidence Areas” (HIAs) -- locations having the highest density of pedestrian collisions. Between January 1, 2004 and December 31, 2012, there were 20 pedestrian collisions including one fatality in the Reedie Drive HIA.

New planters on Reedie DriveIn addition, Leggett thanked Vincente Lopez, Carolyn Gupta, Betty Smith and Bettye Blakeney who were representing a group of 30 Spanish- and English-speaking pedestrian safety advocates who have been conducting education activities in Wheaton/Aspen Hill for 15 months. Lopez was featured in a Spanish language YouTube story about the volunteers. Several of the volunteers were also instrumental in working with the State of Maryland to have a new signal installed at the intersection of Veirs Mill Road and Claridge Road to improve pedestrian safety in this heavily traveled area.

New median on Reedie DriveThe volunteer brigade was formed following a community meeting held by MCDOT to engage residents in the Wheaton/Aspen Hill area in pedestrian safety education. The group represents the Hispanic/Latino community as well as several neighborhood civic associations, including Connecticut Avenue Estates, Montclair Manor and Rock Creek Palisades. Trained by MCDOT, the volunteers also work with County Police and the Maryland Highway Safety Office.

Click here to read the more detailed press release about this event.  To see a Transportation Update summarizing the event, click here.

WJLA Event Coverage

Wheaton Patch Event Coverage