After State’s Failure to Act, Van Hollen and Berliner Seek Update on Dangerous River Road Intersection

by: Congressman Chris Van Hollen's Announcements
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For Immediate Release
March 15, 2017
CONTACT: Ian Jannetta – 202-228-0672
After State’s Failure to Act, Van Hollen and Berliner Seek Update on Dangerous River Road Intersection
 
Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen joined Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner and local leaders in sending a letter to the State Highway Administration requesting an update on safety improvements at the intersection of River Road and Braeburn Parkway at Walt Whitman High School.
“More than a year has passed since three members of a Bethesda family were killed while turning across River Road (MD 190) onto Braeburn Parkway to access Walt Whitman High School,” they wrote. “Despite repeated requests for safety improvements at this intersection from community members and elected representatives at the county, state, and federal levels, little has been done to remedy the problem.”
The officials requested an update on the timeline for intersection improvements, a new intersection Concept Study, and a response to their request to designate this section of River Road as a School Zone in order to set a lower speed limit. State Senator Susan Lee, Delegate C. William Frick, Delegate Ariana Kelly, and Delegate Marc Korman also signed onto the letter.
The full text of the letter is below:
Mr. Gregory Johnson
Administrator
State Highway Administration
Dear Administrator Johnson,
More than a year has passed since three members of a Bethesda family were killed while turning across River Road (MD 190) onto Braeburn Parkway to access Walt Whitman High School.  Despite repeated requests for safety improvements at this intersection from community members and elected representatives at the county, state, and federal levels, little has been done to remedy the problem.
On March 8, about 100 members of the community gathered in the high school’s auditorium to make their frustrations known.  Many said that they remain fearful of this non-signalized intersection.  Some also said that they prohibit their children from using this entrance to the school.  Others said that they have seen too many “close calls” involving pedestrians and drivers at the non-signalized crosswalk across River Road just south of the intersection.
We understand that the interim improvements your agency promised for the existing intersection last fall should finally be complete in the spring.  We also understand that a Concept Study for the community’s preferred alternative of creating a new, signalized intersection nearby at River Road and Pyle Road should be ready to release to the public in May.
Are these timelines for intersection improvements at River Road and Braeburn Parkway and the release of the new intersection Concept Study accurate?  What other information should the community know?
In addition, we requested on October 6, 2016 that the State Highway Administration designate this section of River Road as a School Zone in order to set a lower speed limit.  On October 20, 2016, you advised us that SHA’s District 3 engineering staff would evaluate the feasibility of establishing a School Zone here and that evaluation would take up to 45 days to complete.  More than five months later, we have yet to receive formal notice of the result of that evaluation and would appreciate being notified.
We look forward to your response.

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