State Previously Promised Signal Crossing Where Pedestrians Were Struck Friday in Bethesda

State Previously Promised Signal Crossing Where Pedestrians Were Struck Friday in Bethesda

SHA agreed in October with residents’ complaint about safety; work has not started

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Bethesda residents say they have been advocating for several years for a safer street crossing at a Wisconsin Avenue intersection where two pedestrians were struck by a car Friday afternoon.

The two adults were attempting to cross Wisconsin Avenue at Middleton Lane at about 5:40 p.m. when they were struck by a vehicle, according to Pete Piringer, a spokesman for Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services.

No further information about the patients or the crash was available Monday morning, according to police.

Residents of the East Bethesda neighborhood say they have been lobbying for a signalized pedestrian crossing at the same intersection for at least two years.

In August 2017, Bethesda resident Amanda Farber wrote to the State Highway Administration voicing concern about the safety of the intersection.

State officials wrote back, saying they had conducted a “complete traffic signal warrant analysis” that included analyzing traffic volume, crash history, sight distances and average driver speed through the intersection, according to messages provided by Farber.

The SHA staff concluded that a signalized crossing was not appropriate, according to the messages.

Farber argued that traffic would increase in the area in the coming years with several major development projects set to be completed, including the new Marriott International headquarters. The increased traffic would put pedestrians at risk without intervention, she wrote.

In October, after further review, the State Highway Administration agreed to install a crossing signal at the intersection and two others on Wisconsin Avenue, according to messages sent to Farber from Derek Gunn, assistant district engineer for traffic in Montgomery County.

“Pedestrian push buttons will be installed at each crosswalk to activate both sets of beacons,” Gunn wrote. “These pedestrian-activated warning beacons are anticipated to increase motorist awareness of pedestrians that are present at the crosswalks.”

The work has not yet been completed, however, and in May, Gunn told Farber a timeline for construction had not yet been developed.

State Highway Administration officials could not be reached for comment Monday morning.

County data do not show any other pedestrian-involved crashes at the Middleton Lane and Wisconsin Avenue intersection through 2015, but Farber wrote in an email that neighbors have frequently reported “near-misses.”

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.

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

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