Pedestrian Signals To Be Installed Next Year at Bethesda Intersection Where Crash Occurred

Pedestrian Signals To Be Installed Next Year at Bethesda Intersection Where Crash Occurred

Two people were struck by a vehicle at Wisconsin Avenue and Middleton Lane

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A pedestrian crossing signal is expected to be installed next winter at an intersection where two people were struck by a vehicle last week, according to the Maryland State Highway Administration.

Because of “design and utility challenges,” more than a year has passed since the department approved its placement, according to a spokeswoman. Installation of the signage is expected to begin in “late winter 2020,” she said.

Pedestrians will need to push buttons installed at the crosswalk to activate a set of flashing “beacons,” intended to “increase motorist awareness of pedestrians that are present at the crosswalks,” SHA said.

Two adults were attempting to cross Wisconsin Avenue at Middleton Lane at about 5:40 p.m. on Friday when they were struck by a vehicle, according to police reports.

Residents of the East Bethesda neighborhood voiced frustration about the crash this week, saying they have been warning the state about the intersection for several years.

Before agreeing to install the crossing signal in October 2018, state officials said the measures were not appropriate because not enough people use the intersection, according to correspondence from SHA officials to constituents.

Montgomery County Council member Andrew Friedson, who represents Bethesda, said in an interview Tuesday he disagrees with the state’s original logic.

“That standard that says there aren’t enough people willing to cross an intersection where they have to put their lives in their hands to do so is the equivalent of saying we shouldn’t have built the Bay Bridge because not enough people swam across the Chesapeake Bay to get to the other side,” Friedson said. “We can’t have these scenarios where, unless you have enough people willing to put themselves in dangerous situations, we’re not going to get a signalized crosswalk to let them cross a street safely.”

Friedson said state engineering standards are not compatible with urban, population dense areas like Bethesda and downtown Silver Spring. He said some solutions include breaking the state into smaller districts with “specialized road codes” for different areas or having Montgomery County “make a push” to “take control over state roads” in areas like Bethesda, Silver Spring and Wheaton.

“To me, it’s not about the people or a lack of caring, it’s about the way the agency is set up and the state-county relationship on these issues,” Friedson said. “I don’t know how we get out of that unless we dramatically change the dynamic we’re in. All communities aren’t created equally, so the engineering standards shouldn’t be the same across the board either.”

Through Aug. 13, there had been 333 pedestrian- or bicyclist-involved crashes on roads in Montgomery County — about 1.5 per day, according to county data.

Nine pedestrians and bicyclists have died in the county so far this year.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com

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