WASHINGTON — Changes planned for an intersection where three Bethesda family members were killed in a February crash aren’t enough for elected leaders who are calling for a speed limit change.
Designating as a school zone the area of River Road near Braeburn Parkway could result in a speed limit change from 45 mph to perhaps 35 mph.
“This reduction in speed alone would be sending the signal to drivers, ‘Be careful here,’” said Montgomery County Council Vice President Roger Berliner. “And then of course you can have speed cameras because it’s a school zone.”
Berliner is among a group of local, state and federal leaders who signed a letter sent to State Highway Administration head Gregory Johnson Thursday appealing for the change.
The letter contends that River Road and Braeburn Parkway are used by a substantial percentage of students, parents and visitors to access Walt Whitman High School on Whittier Boulevard.
Typically a school zone is designated on a street that includes the school’s address. The Braeburn Parkway intersection is within a half a mile of the school’s entrance, according to the letter.
“The notion that SHA would focus on some formal technical street address, in my judgment, is a mistake. And it’s a mistake that can cost lives — and has,” Berliner said.
David Buck, spokesman for the Maryland State Highway Administration, said changing the speed limit may not end extremely reckless driving.
“As stated in today’s letter regarding the speed involved in the tragic fatal crash, when a driver chooses to go 115 mph, there are few engineering improvements that can mitigate that type of blatant disregard for highway safety,” Buck said in an email.
SHA is working closely with elected officials and local residents, Buck said to add safety improvements in the area that should be in place by mid-fall, weather permitting.
Planned improvements include:
- At the intersection, separating left-turning traffic from through traffic
- Allowing only right turns from both directions of Braeburn Parkway onto River Road
- Installing traffic-activated overhead flashing signs on River Road in both directions when vehicles turn left onto Braeburn Parkway
View a map of the area near the intersection:
Read the entire letter sent to SHA: