county council 2016

County Council Asks State for Safety Improvements at Veirs Mill Road and Turkey Branch Parkway, More Signage Coming

county council 2016The Montgomery County Council is asking Maryland Governor Larry Hogan for safety improvements at the intersection of Veirs Mill Road and Turkey Branch Parkway following the second fatal accident at this intersection in less than a year.

“Once again, we are mourning the loss of a young man who was struck and killed on Veirs Mill Road at the Matthew Henson Trail cross,” wrote the elected leaders in a letter dated July 20, and addressed to the governor and state highway officials. “Less than a year ago, another bicyclist lost his life at the same intersection. With downhill approaches in both directions and high traffic volumes on Veirs Mill Road and the Matthew Henson Trail, there is no question this intersection remains a pedestrian and cyclist hazard.”

Nancy Navarro 575x380County leaders are suggesting that the state investigate the feasibility of a pedestrian-actuated traffic control device and structural improvements to make the area safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.

“In the wake of this latest tragedy, we urge you to take more aggressive action to resolve the serious safety deficiencies at this intersection,” wrote the county leaders.

State Highway Administration (SHA) spokesperson David Buck said the state, a few years ago, added flashers in advance of the crossings and other static signs to warn motorists that pedestrians or bicyclists may be crossing in the crosswalk.

Just last month, Buck said the state completed additional improvements, most notably adding an additional set of flashers on Veirs Mill Road closer to the crossing that flash when pedestrians or cyclists push the button as they exit the trail and cross Veirs Mill Road.

In a letter to state officials in January, Councilmember Nancy Navarro said she was pleased to see yellow flashing lights installed to make drivers more aware of pedestrians and bicyclists in the area but she remained “concerned that there is not enough emphasis on pedestrian and bicycle safety.”

“Unfortunately, in both tragic crashes (the one last year and the one last Sunday) the cyclist that was struck appears to have not dismounted off their bike nor did they push the button that would have flashed the flashers on Veirs Mill Road, alerting motorists that someone was crossing,” Buck said. “In order for any traffic safety device to be effective, all users of the road, whether cyclists or pedestrians or motorists need to do their part and utilize the safety devices presented.”

According to Buck, in the coming weeks the SHA will add additional signage for cyclists that are exiting the trail to dismount from their bike, push the button, wait for the audible cue that the flashers are now engaged and wait for all traffic to stop before proceeding across Veirs Mill Road. He said any other potential improvements at this intersection will be studied after state officials receive the final police report.

You can read the county leaders’ letter to state officials on the Council’s website, here.

Sonya Burke

About Sonya Burke

Sonya Burke is the Multimedia Manager at Montgomery Community Media (MCM). You can email story ideas at sburke@mymcmedia.org or reach her on Twitter @SonyaNBurke.

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