Prince George’s County officials are moving forward with legislation that would add space for pedestrians and bicyclists on most roadways.
The complete and green streets proposal cleared the council’s Transportation Housing and Environment Committee on Oct. 11 on its way to a final vote from the County Council. The measure would instruct the county’s Department of Public Works and Transportation to include lanes for bicyclist and space for walkers on all new roadways or when existing roadways go under repair. The legislation would also require an emphasis on green or environmentally-friendly measures such as improved storm water management systems.
“You definitely need green streets and I’m in favor of this,” said Councilwoman Karen R. Toles (D-Dist. 7) of Suitland.
David Dorn, a bicycling advocate, also supported the proposal.
“We're all for it,” said the Mount Rainier native. “If you make it safe and you make it enjoyable. Not everyone is going to do it, but some will and by doing it you're taking cars off the road.”
The policy was in line with where regional transportation thinking is headed, said Susan Hubbard, spokeswoman for the county’s department of public works and transportation.
“We support it wholeheartedly,” she said. “It’s what we do anyway when we urbanize a rural roadway. We take all these factors into consideration.”
The county already has been adopting green building practices such as stormwater management and bike lanes into projects for years, Hubbard said.
The county is currently doing design work on what will be the county’s first complete green street at Agers Road in Hyattsville. Design work and a cost estimate for the project should be available in 2013, Hubbard said.
Other areas, such as Baltimore City and Howard County, also have been looking at expanding roadway focus beyond freight trucks and personal vehicles.
Adding bike lanes on public roadways in the city can help to add both additional recreational space as well as cut down on congestion, said Adrienne Barnes, spokeswoman for the Baltimore City Department of Transportation.
“We realize we have all kinds of travel along roadways,” she said. “[Adding bike lanes] prevents accidents and lowers the chance of any type of incidents between bikes and cars.”
Howard County is moving forward with studying 300 miles of its roadways with the goal of developing a master plan for the county about where bike lanes and pedestrian walkways would work best. The Bike Howard plan is due to the Howard County Council in May or April of 2013, said David Cookson, a planning specialist with the Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning.
The cost of making streets green and complete can potentially vary widely, said officials in all three jurisdictions.
For newer roads, which tend to be wider, adding paint to the roadway to indicate a path for bicycles may only cost a few thousand dollars depending on the roadways’ length, while new road construction will factor in the cost of such work, said Fred Schaffer, planning coordinator for the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.
“The greatest problem for the green street policy is retrofitting existing roadways,” he said.
Prince George’s County’s policy would allow exemptions at the discretion of the director of public works, Hubbard said.
Ultimately, the agency would have to balance its budgetary needs versus the cost of making roadways greener and complete, she said.
“Obviously we have to watch the budget,” she said.”We have to monitor it.”