BETHESDA, Md. — Safety upgrades are coming to part of River Road in Bethesda, Maryland, near Walt Whitman High School, but many residents are calling for a more drastic change: new speed cameras.
At a community meeting held Monday night at the school, a majority of the more than 200 people in attendance raised their hands to vote in favor of calling on state leaders to create a new school zone on River Road near Braeburn Parkway.
Such a designation would allow Montgomery County to put up speed cameras there, where three people died in a crash in 2016.
“We do need to get speeds down. That was a clear message from this evening,” said Richard Boltuck with the Bannockburn Civic Association which organized the meeting. “We’d like SHA to cooperate in reducing speeds because that stretch of roadway is used intensively by inexperienced drivers who are students.”
At a previous meeting, state leaders said that section of River Road didn’t qualify to become a school zone, but it may happen after all.
“They are revisiting it at the very top. I had an exchange of emails just this past weekend with SHA Administrator Gregory Slater on this issue,” Boltuck added.
But some improvements to the area are already underway.
Flexible poles were added at the intersection after the crash, and the Maryland State Highway Administration is soon expected to replace the poles with a concrete median.
Pedestrian-activated traffic signals will also be added along eastbound and westbound River Road at Pyle Road.
The work is scheduled to be finished by the summer of 2019.