State highway agency pledges pedestrian safety improvements for Cheverly
Highway Administration to install warning signs, repair crosswalk buttons by end of the year
New signage and crosswalk push button repairs are on the way for the Columbia Park Road bridge that Cheverly town officials and residents say is a hazard for pedestrians to cross.
The State Highway Administration plans to install signage in advance of the pedestrian crosswalks at Cheverly Avenue and the U.S. Route 50 off ramp to remind motorists they are entering an intersection with high pedestrian traffic, SHA spokesman Charlie Gischlar said.
Both SHA and Cheverly town officials met during the week of Sept. 20 to discuss ways to make the pedestrian crossings safer on the bridge that goes over Route 50 and is the footpath for residents walking to the Cheverly Metrorail station.
Town Administrator David Warrington said he does not know how soon any improvements would take place but Gischlar assured that improvements would happen before the end of the year and is prioritized if has to do with pedestrian safety.
"You can't cross that intersection without taking your life in your hands," Warrington said at a Sept. 23 town work session.
The Cheverly Police Department did not respond with any statistics on accidents on the bridge by press time.
Gischlar said SHA will also repair two of the crosswalk push buttons. He said when the buttons malfunction they default to a regular cycle of allowing pedestrians to cross but does not respond to pedestrians who push the buttons. He said the agency noticed the issue in mid-September. Gischlar was still waiting on calls for statistics on how much the push button repairs would cost by press time.
"Right now we're concentrating on getting everything repaired there," Gischlar said. "That's one of the fail safes. It's not responsive as in if you were to push the button and it would automatically get in gear. It's part of the actual cycle. It's better than having it completely out."
Residents were invited to a walk-through of the crosswalks on Sept. 10 with public works director Juan Torres, Warrington and Mayor Michael Callahan to point out their safety concerns. Issues included motorists making a left on a green light from Columbia Park Road to a Route 50 entrance ramp who drive too fast to yield to pedestrians who have the right of way.
Cheverly resident Gabe Horchler said he crosses the Columbia Park Road bridge at least once a day. He said that if the signs are large enough to attract a driver's attention they would "certainly be welcome" and wants to see the push button signals repaired.
"I've never seen anyone use those signals because they simply don't work," Horchler said.
Gischlar said he doesn't know if there are any statistics to prove that signage makes a difference but that SHA is "going the extra mile" to raise awareness about pedestrian safety.
Gischlar said pedestrian safety is the No. 1 priority of SHA and that officials try to do everything from an engineering standpoint to help pedestrians cross roads safely.
"We expect everybody to follow the rules of the roads and that includes drivers too," Gischlar said. "The state law is if there's a pedestrian crosswalk or a crossway that they have to stop. It's a very dangerous situation when people ignore the signing that we put out."