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Plan to Improve Traffic Congestion around Route 1 and Cherry Hill Rd

I’ve recently learned that the MDOT SHA is working on a concept development study to consider adding an additional lane along northbound US 1, between Cherry Hill Road and Edgewood Rd.

This would include shifting the median between Cherry Hill Road and Edgewood Road, repurposing the shoulders along US 1 Northbound between the I-95/I-495 Southbound On Ramp and Off Ramp that ends as an exit only lane to the I-95/I-495 Northbound On Ramp, and adding a traffic signal at the I-95/I-495 Southbound Off Ramp.

These improvements are anticipated to improve overall traffic operations at the intersection and along northbound US 1 during the midday and evening rush hours.

The plan is currently in the concept stage. According to the SHA, the detailed design, if pursued, is expected to take at least two years to complete and would then qualify for construction funding at that time. As part of the design, the SHA will evaluate modifications of the traffic signal to address the operation of the gas station side of the intersection. MDOT SHA said they will keep us posted on their progress.

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7 Comments to “Plan to Improve Traffic Congestion around Route 1 and Cherry Hill Rd”

  1. By Alaina Pitt, November 27, 2022 @ 10:22 pm

    Hi Fazlul,

    Thank you for sharing this information! I’m really concerned about this update. This intersection is already extremely dangerous for people walking and biking. We often bike here to go to Home Depot, Shoppers, and Game Kastle. Adding another lane is going to make this intersection even more dangerous for us to cross. MDOT needs to address the lack of safe bike and pedestrian infrastructure at this intersection rather than adding another lane. I encourage you to read this piece by Strong Towns (an organization founded by a former traffic engineer) on why adding a lane will not reduce congestion: https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2015/11/20/reducing-or-inducing-traffic

    Sincerely,
    Alaina

  2. By Fazlul Kabir, November 27, 2022 @ 11:47 pm

    Hi Alaina, Thanks for your comments. I’ve asked our SHA contact to give more information about this project to see what options they have to ensure pedestrian and bicyclist safety. This project is in the concept phase, so I am sure there will be some opportunities for the community to input as they move forward.

    Ideally, we’d like to see the SHA follow the design they are using to rebuild Route 1 in south College Park, in the campus area. That design has adequate and safe sections for pedestrians and bicyclists. We have been advocating SHA to rebuild Route 1 in north College Park, from MD 193 to the beltway. Unfortunately, they haven’t included the money for the design yet, and we do not know how long it will take to make that happen.

  3. By Halima Ali, November 28, 2022 @ 9:45 am

    Hi Fazul,

    Thank you for sharing this information. Widening roads does not reduce traffic. It does initially until we induce demand for that road and get more congestion. There will always be bottle necks in the system as well. A college town where a lot of students do not drive or own cars deserves investment in walkable, bikeable, transit oriented development.

  4. By John Evans, November 28, 2022 @ 10:35 am

    Hi Fazlul,

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I have the same concerns as Alaina. Adding more lanes will just induce more demand for driving, and state engineers should know better. Will Route 1 in South College Park have protected bike lanes? I was under the impression that it would not. With the car traffic density and the propensity for drivers to speed on Route 1 due to the road design, I would hesitate to call anything less than separated, protected bike lanes as “safe”. The plan to add unprotected bike lanes and a median to replace the shared left turn lane was the bare minimum; this is a step backwards.

  5. By Alaina Pitt, November 28, 2022 @ 2:05 pm

    Hi Fazlul,

    I look forward to hearing what they have to say! Has a project manager been assigned yet? Usually there is someone the public can reach out to I thought (correct me if I’m wrong).

    I’m not just concerned about the bike-ped safety but also the fact that adding a lane will not fix congestion here and it is a huge waste of taxpayer dollars. Based on my observations, the signal timing causes drivers to block the intersection. Fixing that would potentially fix the issue while saving money that could be used to make the intersection safer for non-car users. We don’t even have a sidewalk on the northbound side of route one…

    Alaina

  6. By Fazlul Kabir, November 28, 2022 @ 6:55 pm

    Alaina, I heard about the signal timing from other residents as well. This early morning, I went to the intersection and saw that the two intersections’ lights didn’t align. Ideally, we’d like to see the light at northbound Route 1 at the Edgewood intersection stay green when the eastbound Cherry Hill at Route 1 is green. This way, the traffic should flow without any backup. I am not sure why the SHA did not sync the lights this way – there could be some reasons that we do not know. I plan to ask my contact at the SHA and try to get an answer. Thanks again for your input.

  7. By Daniel K, November 29, 2022 @ 7:18 pm

    Sounds like this is in the very early stages, so there will be time for feedback and discussion with Maryland’s Dept of Transportation. MDOT hasn’t even added it to their project portal page: https://mdot-sha-project-portal-maryland.hub.arcgis.com/

    I’m okay with the added northbound lane, for a few reasons:
    1. It’s an extension of a lane that already exists at and past the Edgewood Road intersection.
    2. It doesn’t create a new bottleneck.
    3. US-1 may not need to be widened by 10 feet to accommodate the new lane. Fazlul mentions the median would be shifted, presumably to cover what’s currently empty shoulder space on US-1’s SB side. This means pedestrians crossing US-1 here may not need to cover much additional distance.
    4. There’s currently no consistent sidewalk on the east side of US-1 north of Lackawanna St, so there’s not much to ruin in terms of pedestrian safety with this widening.

    Notably, this also talks about an added northbound lane across the Beltway, which deserves questions. I’ll break down the language a bit so it’s easier to follow: Repurposing the shoulders along US-1 NB between the I-495 SB on-ramp and off-ramp, which will end as an exit-only lane to the I-495 NB on-ramp.

    What MDOT proposes here could match a document they made in March 2008 titled “U.S. 1 Sunnyside Avenue to College Avenue Selected Alternative”. That was back when they were studying US-1 in College Park as a whole, before it got broken into 3 separate projects and everything got delayed by many years. In the document, the I-495 SB off-ramp gets up to 3 lanes with a traffic signal, which is good for safety (because it eliminates merging with moving traffic) but concerning for adding an extra signal on US-1 NB that could add congestion. (This concern is partly why I’m against HOT lanes on the Beltway, as additional signals would be needed on arterial roads like US-1 where they’d ramp on/off.)

    Last thing: I’m in strong favor of eliminating BP gas station at the Cherry Hill Rd intersection. It’d simplify the intersection, improve flow at the intersection, create an opportunity for added canopy/vegetation, and provide a safer space for pedestrians to use the crosswalk there. MDOT’s March 2008 selected alternative showed this gas station being eliminated, so this should be a real possibility for them to consider. To me, it’s a question of who pays for it.