Prince George’s Co. lawmakers want more speed camera exceptions

There’s a long list of gruesome, deadly accidents that have occurred over the years along Church Road in Bowie, Maryland.

At the top of that list is one that happened last year — when 14-year-old Kamal Nashid was struck and killed while jogging through a crosswalk.

What was once a winding, country road is now much busier, as several new neighborhoods have been built. With the new development, the county rebuilt a stretch of the road just north of Route 50 to include more lanes of traffic.

And with even more development planned along just that stretch, lawmakers in the Prince George’s County delegation are pushing for more changes to the state’s speed camera law so they can install one near where Nashid was hit and killed.

“The community is demanding it,” said Del. Erek Barron, the chair of the county delegation and whose district includes the stretch of Church Road where Nashid was hit. “There’s a clear need for it.”

This year, the county delegation has put forth bills that would allow for speed cameras along Church Road between Old Stage Road and Dunwood Valley Drive in Bowie. Several neighborhoods already line that part of Church Road, where the city is also building a new ice arena. There’s a potential for hundreds more residences there too, as the owners of Freeway Airport look to sell their land to developers.

The delegation is also pushing for changes to state law so that cameras could be put on a stretch of Croom Road in Upper Marlboro and on Suitland Road in the Morningside area of Suitland.

It was only last year that state lawmakers finally allowed the county to install cameras outside of school or construction zones. And even then, the bill allowing speed cameras on Route 210 in southern Prince George’s County was only warily passed by lawmakers worried about the precedent it would set.

Barron acknowledges the county faces an uphill fight to increase the number of exceptions currently allowed by the state.

“The general assembly is very resistant to go outside the parameters of the statute,” Barron said. “There should be some extension of local courtesy. We know our communities. We know the needs. There’s a public safety need. The law enforcement community and the county supports it. The county council supports it. That should be enough.”

Barron admitted there’s still a strong general perception that speed cameras are more about generating revenue than making roads safer, but he says that’s not the reason he’s pushing to get a camera on Church Road.

“It’s the local communities that are impacted by this and they should be allowed to make a decision whether or not an exception is warranted,” Barron. said.

“This is a case where there’s been a need for a long time in this area where there’s increased development, where there’s been even before this death, there’s been other incidents. So the need is there. The community is calling for it. We should be able to put the bill in and get local courtesy extended in response to local needs.”

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