Speed limit change coming to Veirs Mill Road in Rockville

A lower speed limit is coming to a stretch of Veirs Mill Road in Rockville, Maryland, where a pedestrian was struck and killed late last year.

The speed limit is changing from 40 mph to 35 mph. The change will apply to the part of the road between Edmonston Drive and Twinbrook Parkway.

The City of Rockville requested the speed limit reduction, and the Maryland State Highway Administration recently approved it.

Erich Florence, deputy district engineer for SHA’s district three office, said the eastbound posted speed is already 35 mph. The latest change will bring the part of the busy road in line with other parts of Veirs Mill.

“Typically, what happens is when you have vehicles driving faster than the posted speed, it’s because the character of the roadway tells them and suggests to them that they can safely drive that speed, which is not what we want,” Florence said. “That’s not how we set up posted speed limits. When we come across that, we have to put in measures to get people to slow down.”

As part of the review process, the agency reviewed three years of crash data. From January 2019 to December 2021, Florence said there were 10 property crashes and eight crashes that the agency considers injury crashes.

Some of the incidents were left-turn crashes, some were rear-end crashes and others were mainline crashes, which Florence said occur when drivers can’t determine what the intentions of the cars on the mainline, in this case Veirs Mill Road, are.

In that span, there weren’t any deadly crashes, Florence said.

But last December, 70-year-old Teresa Moreno De Mejia was crossing Veirs Mill Road near Atlantic Avenue when she was hit and killed. Rockville’s Vision Zero Task Force conducted a post-crash inspection after the incident.

The agency conducted a spot-speed study along the road, Florence said, using the 85th percentile. The speeds were found to be 45 mph westbound and 46 mph eastbound. That means out of 100 cars, 85 would be driving those speeds.

“What we determined was that there’s data supporting reducing the speed limit down to 35 in the westbound direction as well,” Florence said.

SHA has started resurfacing in the eastbound direction, Florence said, and as part of those efforts, lanes will be narrower. They’ll be changing from 12 feet to 11 feet.

“It makes the driver drive a little slower,” Florence said. “Because naturally, you drive slower when you feel like you don’t have as much room to operate.”

Florence said the agency is also looking to make other upgrades to the intersections along the road, such as high visibility sidewalks and pedestrian signals that use audio.

The road narrowing project should be finished and the new speed limit signs should be posted by the end of May, Florence said.

“Agencywide, SHA’s priority is safety,” Florence said. “Safety for not just vehicles, but safety for our multimodal users, pedestrians, cyclists.”

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Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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