County’s DPW&T (Department of Public Works and Transportation) staff were at hand on last Thursday’s NCPCA meeting at Davis Hall to discuss the pedestrian safety issues at various crosswalks on Rhode Island Avenue between Edgewood Road and Route 193.
Staff started the meeting by presenting a concept design that they prepared some 5 years ago. According to the design, staff proposed to build two roundabouts at the intersection of Hollywood Rd and Indian Lane. The staff argued that the roundabouts will act as the most effective measure to enhance pedestrian, bicycle, vehicle safety and reduce cut through traffic . The project also aims to provide environmental enhancements in the form of storm water management treatments, enhance bus stop locations and shelters. Additionally, the project would upgrade signage, street lighting and pavement markings.
The project is divided in two phases. Phase 2 includes the improvements from Muskogee Street to Geronimo Street including roundabout at Hollywood Rd.). Phase 3 includes improvements from Geronimo Street to MD 193 including roundabout at Indian Lane to Fox Street. The two phases are part of 4 part broader improvement plan that DPW&T planned several years ago. The phase 1 of the plan includes the traffic light installation at the intersection of Edgewood and Rhode Island Avenue, which is now complete.
The total cost of the project has been estimated $5.9 million, which includes design, construction, administration and contingency. The project is expected to be completed in nearly 2 years, which includes design, right-of-way acquisition, community involvement, utility revocations and contract bidding and award.
No funding is now available to complete any of these two phases in the County’s FY2013 CIP budget, that has been approved recently. There is also is no word if there will be any funding will be available ti the upcoming years. Staff said the DPW&t’s budget has been slashed more than 50% over the past year – from $45 million to $20 million. During the question and answer session, it was however noted that there may be a possibility to spend some money on the design of this project. The County allocation $5.5 million alone to improve pedestrian safety on County roads.
The relatively large cost of the project and the latest DPW&T’s fiscal situation led some residents ask if the project will ever see the light of the day. some suggested to try alternates and relatively inexpensive ways for pedestrian safety, such as placing reflective yellow bollards. The NCPCA itself wrote earlier with its own proposal that includes implementing a “Choker” by redesigning the road at the crosswalk are. The City engineer also spent sometime in doing research on flashing beacon lights. The DPW&T staff said hey would consider these designs, despite the fact that they have concerns about some of these alternative designs.