The State Highway Administration and university, College Park and county officials created a list of immediate, short-term, midterm and long-term pedestrian safety improvements for Route 1 at a meeting Friday.
SHA Administrator Melinda Peters, university President Wallace Loh, University Police Chief David Mitchell, city Mayor Andy Fellows and Sen. Jim Rosapepe (D-Anne Arundel and Prince George’s) were among the attendees.
City and university officials previously expressed frustration with SHA’s approach to pedestrian safety on Route 1, but after the meeting they said SHA is approaching this issue with urgency.
“When your top person is here and she’s making these commitments, I feel good,” Loh said. “[Peters] cares about people’s lives and safety.”
A sense of urgency was evident with orange stanchions with yellow tape installed on Route 1 following the meeting, Mitchell said. They were placed at the intersection of Knox Road and Route 1, continuing southbound past R.J. Bentley’s and stopping before Big Play Sports Grill. Across the street the stanchions continued down to Bank of America. The stanchions will stand from 10 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. on weekend nights for at least the rest of the semester, Mitchell said.
But more needs to be done, he said. Mitchell said University Police have arrested 509 drunk drivers on Route 1 and Route 193 since 2012, but they were mostly incidents involving nonuniversity students driving on Route 1.
“We’re talking about a small section of roadway that has proven in the last roughly 10 months to be very deadly,” Mitchell said. “We believe that the speed limit needs to be lowered and that the current speed limit needs to be enforced. We know that speed cameras work and I’m in favor of that on this section of Route 1.”
These concerns were addressed in SHA’s list of proposed short-term safety items that will take place in the next several weeks. The list also includes installing warning signs, evaluating automatic walk signals along with the 30 mph speed limit and the speed cameras hours of operation, looking into ways to improve lighting, assessing the feasibility of a four-way red flash for this section at night and measuring the need of a traffic signal at the intersection of Hartwick Road and Route 1.
The crosswalk pavement markings are scheduled to be refurbished today if the weather permits, and the SHA District Office will start looking to install the pedestrian safety signs this week. Peters also said she hopes to have messages along the curbs to remind pedestrians not to cross.
“One of the things I noticed as I was driving up and down the corridor is a lot of the students are looking down, maybe at their phone,” Peters said. “So having an actual visual reminder on the curb line will hopefully deter people from making that decision to step out into the street and cross not at the crosswalk.”
Reviewing the feasibility of engineering changes to the median is among the list of midterm proposals, along with studying the corridor to decide if additional lighting would be necessary and determining a location to install a flashing yellow light with a warning sign.
Upgrading the signals at the intersection to current standards and a Route 1 redesign project from the SHA, including a raised median, wider sidewalks and audible signals at crosswalks, are among the long-term options within one- to-three years.
Mitchell said the increased police presence on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights will be permanent, and the university has a “Street Smart” campaign to educate pedestrians.
“We’re all focused as a team on getting to the right result, which is safer pedestrians and a safer roadway for drivers as well,” Peters said. “In the end, we can all work together, but the students also have to be a part of making sure we have a good solution out there.”
The SHA will have completed a pedestrian road safety audit report by early summer, Peters said, which will include the agency’s official observations on the highway’s safety hazards.