A plan to add bike lanes and sidewalks to Kenilworth Avenue has some Prince George’s County residents wondering whether it will add to existing traffic jams for motorists.
A $1.1 million Maryland State Highway Administration engineering study is under way to design pedestrian improvements desired for several years by Edmonston residents and officials, said Andrew Kaufmann, an SHA project manager.
The improvements, which could cost $5.3 million if funded, include replacing the northbound right shoulder and the southbound right lane with a bike lane and sidewalk, Kaufmann said. Between 24,000 and 34,000 vehicles travel Kenilworth Avenue daily, according to SHA data. The plan area includes the two-mile stretch of Kenilworth Avenue from Kenilworth Towers at 3801 Kenilworth Ave. to the state highway’s intersection with East West Highway. The project also includes a proposed sidewalk replacement on Edmonston Road, which intersects Kenilworth Avenue, between Tilden Road and Maryland Route 450, and median reconstruction on 48th Street.
“The SHA is trying to be more multimodal and encourage different types of transportation,” Kaufmann said.
Sherrod Fairfax, 59, of Hyattsville drives Kenilworth Avenue twice a week and said he is not opposed to bike lanes, but a third traffic lane leading up to East West Highway is needed to alleviate rush hour traffic. There are three southbound lanes and two northbound, which result in backups for people leaving Washington, D.C., he said.
“It’s a feeder road for New York Avenue [in the District] so I guess that’s the big problem,” Fairfax said. “More people use this to get around the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.”
Hyattsville resident Rodney Willard, 53, said he would like to see more space for drivers and said he is wary about having bicycle lanes because of the danger of a cyclist falling off a bike and into traffic.
“I think widening [Kenilworth] a little bit more, it will give cars more room,” Willard said.
However, one of the goals of the project is to take more vehicles off the road. According to SHA data, the project could remove 119 cars daily from the road by 2015 and 161 by 2045. The project area ends at a proposed Purple Line stop for Kenilworth Avenue and East West Highway, which officials believe will encourage motorists to use mass transportation. The Purple Line is a proposed 16-mile light rail link between New Carrollton and Bethesda and is in its preliminary engineering phase, but not fully funded, according to the Maryland Transit Administration website. Fairfax added that he would like to see more marked crosswalks. In the two-mile stretch there are seven intersections with traffic lights and eight intersections without one, according to SHA data. Kaufmann said there are plans to improve existing crosswalks and add countdown crosswalk signals at traffic lights.
Edmonston Councilwoman Margaret J. Pooley (Ward 2), who bikes to her job in Washington, D.C., said she is looking for anything that will get more people out of their vehicles when traffic backs up on northbound Kenilworth Avenue during rush hour and said the absence of marked crosswalks is a problem.
“I think that it’s absurd to not have more crosswalks because when you’re a pedestrian and you get off the bus, are you really expected to walk a quarter mile to where there’s a safe place to cross Kenilworth?” Pooley said. “You’re still going to have pedestrians darting across Kenilworth.”