Rockville brainstorms safety at intersections near highway -- Gazette.Net


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Rockville is looking at ways to make some of its intersections safer for drivers and pedestrians.

At a Monday meeting, the Mayor and Council discussed safety at two nearby intersections: Great Falls Road and Maryland Avenue, which becomes Falls Road after the intersection, and the Falls Road interchange with Interstate 270.

The intersection of Great Falls Road and Maryland Avenue had eight crashes reported from 2010 through 2012, according to a city staff report that cited state records for the three most recent years available.

In January 2013, two pedestrians were hit at the intersection by a driver turning onto Great Falls Road who did not yield when the pedestrians had the signal to walk, the report said, and a fatal crash happened in December of that year at the same intersection.

Emad Elshafei, chief of traffic and transportation, said the number of crashes is not considered particularly high for an intersection of that size, but the signs are confusing, and speeding is a problem in the area.

Elshafei said putting in left-turn signals at intersections to prevent cars from turning left on green could help reduce the number of collisions. The city would have to work with the State Highway Administration to improve the intersections.

He said the city had installed a speed indicator sign on Maryland Avenue to let people know how fast they are going. That has reduced speeding somewhat, he said, although many people are still going over the posted speed limits.

Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton said she thinks part of the problem on Falls Road and Maryland Avenue is that the road coming off the interstate looks like a highway.

“It’s clearly cement canyon,” she said.

Councilwoman Virginia Onley said she thinks better enforcement and signs could help.

“People simply don’t understand what the signs [there now] mean and what some of the laws are,” she said.

Elshafei said the state wants to wait a year to see if drivers obey a “yield to pedestrians” sign recently installed at the intersection of Great Falls and Falls roads, but “we’re not going to wait a year.”

ewaibel@gazette.net