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Speed Limit Lowered on U.S. 1 to Curb Pedestrian Deaths

Following three fatal accidents in 2014, lower speed limits and other safety improvements are coming to U.S. 1 in College Park.

The speed limit on U.S. 1 will be 25 mph effective August 1. File|Patch
The speed limit on U.S. 1 will be 25 mph effective August 1. File|Patch
A slower speed limit, increased use of speed cameras, barriers in the median to prevent pedestrians from crossing in the middle of the block are all suggestions being considered, or enacted, to prevent more pedestrian deaths on U.S. 1/Baltimore Avenue in College Park.

The first change will be a drop in the road’s speed limit from 30 to 25 mph effective Aug. 1. Three pedestrians, including two University of Maryland students, were killed while crossing the road so far this year.

“Pedestrian fatalities on Route 1 and anywhere in Prince George’s County are unacceptable,” said Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III, according to a news release. “The Prince George’s County government is committed to work with the state along with our local partners and stakeholders to enhance and accelerate infrastructure improvements while focusing on public safety enforcement, education, and engagement.”

Janelle Marie Oni, 21, of Randallstown was the latest pedestrian involved in a fatal accident on U.S. 1. On July 5, Oni was struck by a man who was driving with twice the legal blood alcohol level.

Earlier in the year, two college students were also struck and killed along the major highway.

In January, University of Maryland student, Cory Hubbard, 22, of Westhampton was struck and killed in a hit-and-run when he tried to cross Baltimore Avenue at Knox Road.

In April, a senior from George Washington University, Carlos Pacanins, 23, of Chevy Chase was struck near the same intersection. He was weeks away from graduation.

Since spring, some modifications have already been made to U.S 1, including shorter pedestrian wait times for crossing signals, automatic crossing signs for pedestrians, “Don’t Cross” signs to remind pedestrians not to cross mid-block, “No Pedestrian” signs in the medians, new crosswalk markings, and signs for drivers that say “State Law - Stop for Pedestrians in Crosswalks.”

More changes are to come.

The State Highway Administration, University of Maryland, City of College Park and County officials announced a series of safety improvements to U.S. 1 on Monday.

Along with the reduced speed limit, the State Highway Administration will install a median fence along the road by the end of August to deter mid-block crossings.

By late October, the SHA will install an overhead pedestrian signal at the U.S. 1 and Hartwick Road intersection. The new signal will flash yellow to U.S. 1 road traffic and red to Hartwick Road traffic. But when a pedestrian pushes the walk button, the signal will turn solid red for traffic in all directions to allow safe pedestrian crossing.

The College Park City Council will vote on July 15 on Mayor Andrew M. Fellows’ proposal for expanding times speed cameras operate to enforce the new speed limit. Speed camera operation times would coincide with heavy pedestrian traffic times if the proposal is accepted.

The new speed limit will be strictly enforced by City of College Park and University police officers. Sobriety checkpoints will also be set up to combat drunk driving.

“These are important actions that will increase pedestrian safety along this stretch of U.S. 1,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. “The State Highway Administration, University, City and County have worked together to re-engineer traffic. Now I urge drivers and pedestrians to do their part.”

Along with new road enhancements, officials also announced a pedestrian safety education campaign. Walk Smart College Park is an effort to partner with local restaurants and taverns to educate University of Maryland students on the rules of the road to ensure safe pedestrian practices.
Pete Grosso July 15, 2014 at 09:26 AM
Most of these issues here fall on drunk college students. It's not always the driver. I've gone through the area, stone sober, on a Friday or Saturday night and almost taken a few out myself. They stand in the middle of the lanes, cross where ever they please, the Cornerstone has them lined up along Rt. 1 and a lot of them fall off the curb into traffic. The local police should do more in the way of handing out J walking citations and maybe a few public drunkeness citations to cut down on the problems there too. Putting a fence up may help, if it's high enough that they can't just jump over it.
Barbara July 15, 2014 at 01:24 PM
We seem to be doing everything but caring about the fact that we have all these drunk kids running around
Pete Grosso July 15, 2014 at 05:23 PM
They are everywhere, and they pay absolutely no attention to the traffic lights or the traffic for that matter.

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