CONGRESSMAN CHRIS VAN HOLLEN
Maryland’s 8th District
For Immediate Release
March 1, 2016
CONTACT:  Ian Jannetta – 202-225-1527
 
Van Hollen, State and Montgomery County Officials Urge State Highway Administration to Comprehensively Address Safety at River Road Intersection 
Rockville, MD – Today Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen, along with State and County officials, wrote to the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) urging a swift and comprehensive safety review of the intersection of River Road and Pyle Road/Braeburn Parkway in Bethesda. Three lives were lost in a tragic accident last weekend at the intersection, which does not have a traffic signal despite longstanding community concerns about speed and visibility.
“Residents and members of the Whitman High School community are again calling for a traffic light at this intersection via a petition that already has over 2,000 signatories,” the officials wrote to SHA Administrator Gregory Johnson. “We ask that you conduct a traffic safety study that examines all potential options—including a traffic light—that could make that intersection safer for all users. We ask that you conduct this study as quickly as possible.”
The full text of the letter is below:
Mr. Gregory C. Johnson, Administrator
Maryland State Highway Administration
Dear Administrator Johnson:
We are writing to you today concerning the recent fatal crash at the intersection of River Road (MD 190) and Pyle Road/Braeburn Parkway in Bethesda that took the lives of three members of our community. As representatives of the area at the state and county levels, we believe that traffic and pedestrian safety issues at this intersection must be more comprehensively addressed.
We appreciate that you have agreed to evaluate this intersection again. Safety at this intersection has been a priority of the local community since at least 2008. Local residents report that the combination of high speeds on River Rd., limited visibility due to the nearby crest of the hill, wide travel lanes, and proximity to the Beltway make this intersection particularly dangerous. As this is a major entry point for a local high school, we must take all possible steps to address the unsafe conditions. 
Residents and members of the Whitman High School community are again calling for a traffic light at this intersection via a petition that already has over 2,000 signatories. We ask that you conduct a traffic safety study that examines all potential options—including a traffic light—that could make that intersection safer for all users. We ask that you conduct this study as quickly as possible.
We understand that the District 3 team recently reviewed the pedestrian safety issues associated with the nearby crosswalk. We regretted SHA’s initial determination to not make any significant pedestrian safety improvement upgrades. We do not think that fresh paint will be sufficient to address the serious safety challenges posed by an unsignalized crosswalk frequently used by high schoolers where the posted speed is 45 mph. As we seek to improve traffic safety, everything must be done to also ensure that students walking to and from Whitman can do so safely.
Thank you for your consideration of this matter. We look forward to your prompt reply.
Sincerely,
                                               
Chris Van Hollen                    Isiah Leggett                           Nancy Floreen
Member of Congress               County Executive                   Council President
Roger Berliner                         Marc Elrich                             Tom Hucker
Council Vice President           Councilmember                       Councilmember
Sidney Katz                            George Leventhal                   Nancy Navarro
Councilmember                       Councilmember                       Councilmember
                                               
Craig Rice                               Hans Riemer                           William (Bill) Frick                
Councilmember                       Councilmember                       State Delegate
                                   
Ariana Kelly                            Mark Korman                          Susan Lee
State Delegate                         State Delegate                         State Senator
CC:      Brian Young, District 3 Engineer, Maryland State Highway Administration
            Chief J. Thomas Manger, Montgomery County Police Department
            Captain Thomas Didone, Traffic Division, MCPD