Bowie residents, officials seek second look at pedestrian traffic on highway -- Gazette.Net


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For the second time in three years, state highway officials will review safety concerns regarding the multi-lane highway separating a Bowie shopping center from multiple housing communities near Prince George’s Stadium.

There are no crosswalks or sidewalks at the intersection of U.S. 301 and Governor’s Bridge Road in Bowie, but that doesn’t stop occupants of the Governor’s Green apartment complex or Longleaf Community from crossing the busy highway to access the stores and restaurants, said Governor’s Green resident Akilah Braxton.

“It’s a really dangerous intersection for people who don’t have cars,” Braxton said. “I always see people walking [across the highway]. It’s children and young adults.”

Braxton said she sees an average of 10 pedestrians crossing the highway daily while driving to and from work.

In August, Bowie officials requested that Maryland State Highway Administration evaluate the intersection, and the SHA responded by initiating a 90-day study of the area, said SHA spokesman Charlie Gischlar.

In 2011, city councilman Todd Turner (At-Large) made a similar request, and the resulting SHA study determined the highway was too dangerous for a crosswalk, a crosswalk would also necessitate sidewalk installation to meet American Disability Act requirements and no further modifications were recommended, according to an SHA response email sent to Turner.

Officials from SHA agreed to conduct a second study because enough time had passed to warrant re-valuation, Gischlar said.

“We’ll see if anything has changed drastically over the past three years,” Gischlar said, adding that variables like new development could have an impact on pedestrian traffic in the area.

In Bowie City Manager David Deutsch’s letter to SHA, he suggested that planting a hedge or erecting a fence might deter pedestrians from crossing U.S. 301.

Danielle Tillman, another Governor Green resident, said she doesn’t believe a barrier will be effective.

“There is a bunch of [stores and restaurants] over there,” Tillman said. “People are still going to cross.”

Wesley Middlebrooks, a resident of the Longleaf housing community farther down Governor’s Bridge Road, agreed and said he often sees residents who work at some of the fast food restaurants across the street crossing the highway by foot.

“They’ll find a way to get across. They have to get to work,” he said.

Turner said the idea of a barrier is to minimize or direct foot traffic, not necessarily to eliminate it.

“Ideally, people wouldn’t cross at all, but we have four to five communities [on the other side of the highway] and people are going to cross,” he said. “We know people are crossing and we know it is a dangerous intersection. The question is how do we make it safer?”

While Turner is currently running for a Prince George’s County council seat, he said Bowie residents will not lose him as an advocate in this matter if he is elected in November.

“I live off Governor’s Bridge Road. [This issue is] something I see every day,” he said. “It’s something I can’t ignore.”

eeastman@gazette.net