A Laurel charter school hoping for the green light on its stop sign request to make student arrivals and departures easier was turned down by transportation authorities a second time.
Parents and staff at Chesapeake Math and IT Academy raised concerns about the busy intersection at the school’s entrance and asked Prince George’s County to install three-way stop signs to increase pedestrian safety.
The school, which opened in 2011, is located in a business park off Sweitzer Lane in Laurel, a road parents say becomes particularly hectic in the morning and late afternoon.
“It’s very busy,” said Dwayne Thorne of Upper Marlboro. “There’s no sign for a school or school children crossing. Why wait for something to happen before they take a corrective step?”
After conducting a traffic study in January, the Prince George’s County Department of Public Works and Transportation determined a three-way stop was not necessary, said Armen Abrahamian, chief of the department’s traffic safety division.
“None of the analysis showed that a multi-way stop was warranted,” Abrahamian said, adding that there had been no accidents or pedestrians struck at that intersection for five years.
The department used federal and state criteria to evaluate the intersection for issues like traffic volume and accidents and found the situation did not meet the criteria for a multi-way stop, Abrahamian said.
Thorne said his 13-year-old son, Jelani Thorne, attends CMIT and is one of several dozen students who cross Sweitzer Lane after school. He said he is concerned for his son’s safety, as well as the safety of students crossing the street to the public transportation stop on the other side of Sweitzer Lane.
“I have to have him text me to let me know that he’s walking, he’s crossed the road, he’s in the building,” Thorne said. “There is a crosswalk, but the speeds, with people getting off work and going to work, is a concern.”
Toni Scott, a receptionist at engineering firm Stantec, which is located in the same business park as the school, said she would like to see additional traffic measures installed at the intersection to increase pedestrian safety.
Scott said she used public transportation and crossed Sweitzer Lane to get to work when she started with the company in 2007. She said she often sees children walking across the road.
“In the afternoon, it is busy,” she said. “Especially after [2 p.m.], because that’s when everyone is getting off work.”
Abrahamian said that a multi-way stop installed to control traffic during the busiest 45 minutes of the day would only impede traffic during the rest of the day. He recommended the school hire an off-duty police officer to ensure pedestrian safety at the end of the school day.
Ali Gurbuz, CMIT principal, said in a statement that the school’s enrollment is currently around 500 students, and that it is planning to add 125 students and 10th grade next year.
“Because CMIT is expanding and new students are not provided school bus services, more cars are expected to use Sweitzer Lane next year,” he said. “I believe a three-way stop sign will be a proactive approach to minimize any potential accidents.”