County Executive Isiah Leggett today said he hopes police enforcement, repainted crosswalks and an engineering review of traffic signals on Arlington Road will better protect pedestrians coming to and from Bethesda Elementary School.
A Bethesda resident asked Leggett how the county planned to improve pedestrian safety there before the next school year during an online discussion.
Parents at Bethesda Elementary School have been asking for pedestrian safety improvements since a February incident in which a baby in a stroller was hit in an Arlington Road crosswalk. The baby was uninjured.
Some have asked the county to expand school zones, establish a maximum speed limit of 20 miles per hour during school hours in school zones, double fines for speeding in school zones, give pedestrians an exclusive window to cross and prohibit right turns on red during school hours.
Leggett said the county is committed to improving pedestrian access:
Montgomery County is committed to improving pedestrian safety, and in light of the recent collision at this location, our engineers and Police have taken a fresh look to see what additional measures we can adopt to enhance safety in the area. County Police have conducted targeted enforcement of traffic safety laws at this location that has especially focused on drivers. Crosswalks have been repainted, and our engineering staff is evaluating the traffic signal operations and school zone signing. A new sidewalk was installed in 2009 at the corner of Arlington Road and Wilson Lane that was built by the Department of Transportation to improve pedestrian access and safety near the school. It is our hope that these and future efforts will help better protect pedestrians.
Leggett also answered a question about an additional Potomac River crossing from an upcounty resident who said a highway without many exits wouldn’t encourage development and wouldn’t threaten the county’s Agricultural Reserve:
The idea of an additional Potomac River crossing between the American Legion Bridge and US Highway 15 and Point of Rocks is not new. Neither is the County’s opposition to it. Such a bridge crossing and accompanying super-highway in not in the County’s Master Plan and hasn’t been for 30 years – ever since Virginia first abandoned the earlier “Outer Beltway” concept and Montgomery followed suit. On the Virginia side, it would cut through hundreds of homes in long-established neighborhoods. On the Montgomery side, it would slash through our crown-jewel 91,000 acre Agricultural Reserve and encourage sprawl development. “Limited access” highways often end up being less limited and urbanization can follow. Some studies have indicated that the traffic relief would be negligible, at best, and that increased traffic would leave congestion virtually unchanged on the American Legion bridge. An alternative is for both Virginia and Maryland to work, separately and together, on other transit and road alternatives to address demand issues.