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Leggett Celebrates Pedestrian Safety Improvements in Wheaton

WI Staff Report | 8/7/2013, 3 p.m.
Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett celebrated Aug. 5 the completion of pedestrian safety improvements on Reedie Drive between Veirs Mill ...
Many areas in Wheaton, especially those along bus routes, have received new safety improvements designed to keep pedestrians clear of motor vehicle traffic. (Courtesy photo)

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett celebrated Aug. 5 the completion of pedestrian safety improvements on Reedie Drive between Veirs Mill Road and Georgia Avenue in Wheaton that were installed by the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT). This 800-foot stretch of road was targeted because it was designated as one of the County’s “High Incidence Areas” (HIAs) -- locations having the highest density of pedestrian collisions. Between January 1, 2004 and December 31, 2012, there were 20 pedestrian collisions including one fatality in the Reedie Drive HIA.

“In 2007, my Pedestrian Safety Initiative outlined a blueprint for reducing pedestrian collisions in Montgomery County, and our approach is making the County safer for pedestrians,” said Leggett. “Through engineering, education and enforcement, as well as a broad partnership between residents, County departments and agencies, and the State Highway Administration, the severity of collisions are trending downward, particularly in the areas that need the most help. Targeted interventions really can make a difference in reducing the number of pedestrians who are injured or killed.”

The Reedie Drive area is heavily traveled by pedestrians traveling to Wheaton Westfield Shopping Mall, the Wheaton Metro Station, public parking, retail shops, restaurants and nearby transit bus stops. Wheaton redevelopment is expected to increase pedestrian activity.

The engineering improvements along Reedie Drive appear to be reducing traffic speeds and increasing compliance of drivers yielding to pedestrians, and include: An enhanced crossing on Reedie Drive at Triangle Lane with a high-visibility crosswalk, curb ramps, curb extensions, and pedestrian crossing signs; a new crossing on Reedie Drive at Grandview Avenue with a high-visibility crosswalk, curb ramps, curb extensions and pedestrian crossing signs; a new median on Reedie Drive between Grandview Avenue and Triangle Lane that prevents pedestrians from crossing unsafely except at the designated crossings. The mounded median includes brick pavers, trees, shrubs, and bollards with cables; improved sidewalks along the north and south sides of Reedie Drive using “Wheaton pavers” – a Wheaton Streetscape Standard developed by Montgomery County’s Department of Housing and Community Affairs to coordinate visual design elements in Wheaton; and a raised planter along the south side of Reedie Drive at the Metro breezeway.

In addition, Leggett thanked Vincente Lopez, Carolyn Gupta, Betty Smith and Bettye Blakeney who were representing a group of 30 Spanish- and English-speaking pedestrian safety advocates who have been conducting education activities in Wheaton/Aspen Hill for 15 months. Lopez was featured in a Spanish language YouTube story about the volunteers. Several of the volunteers were also instrumental in working with the State of Maryland to have a new signal installed at the intersection of Veirs Mill Road and Claridge Road to improve pedestrian safety in this heavily traveled area.

The volunteer brigade was formed following a community meeting held by MCDOT to engage residents in the Wheaton/Aspen Hill area in pedestrian safety education. The group represents the Hispanic/Latino community as well as several neighborhood civic associations, including Connecticut Avenue Estates, Montclair Manor and Rock Creek Palisades. Trained by MCDOT, the volunteers also work with County Police and the Maryland Highway Safety Office.