by Julie Lees, Traffic & Safety Committee
Neighbors from North Woodside, Lyttonsville, and Rosemary Hills met on January 13th with Michael Paylor, Chief of Traffic Engineering, Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT). The goal was to develop a common understanding of potential traffic issues stemming from the new Talbot Ave. Bridge and the county’s plan for traffic calming and pedestrian safety.
Julie Lees, co-chair of the North Woodside Traffic and Safety Committee, began the meeting with an outline of concerns, noting that the wider two-lane bridge will potentially increase vehicular speed and may attract more vehicles, especially from out-of-area drivers. There is particular concern about pedestrian and cyclist safety in the area where the pedestrian/cyclist trail crosses the two lanes of traffic on the bridge at 4th Ave.
Michael Paylor discussed the county’s current plan for traffic control around the bridge and responded to audience questions and comments. The plan is to reestablish a three-way stop at the 4th Ave. end of the bridge. Mr. Paylor said he understood that the Purple Line was responsible for traffic mitigation on the bridge, but was told during the meeting that the state has explicitly stated that traffic mitigation and safety was the responsibility of the county. A recurring theme was the challenge of enforcement. Signs alone do not change driver behavior.
Audience members suggested a raised crosswalk for the trail, which Mr. Paylor said was feasible. There were questions about pedestrian-activated lights. There are two types of lights—one linked to a stoplight and one that sets off a blinking yellow light. Mr. Paylor said the former was a poor fit for our needs due to the short distance on the bridge. There were questions about design options that could slow vehicles, such as the bump outs on Dale Dr. and at Spring and Second. The bump outs can be done at the request of the neighborhood association in conjunction with county traffic engineers.
Vehicle Access Restriction, which requires a specific percentage of out-of-area traffic, was discussed as an option. Examples of VAR include the restrictions on Second Ave. access in Woodside during rush hour. Mr. Paylor noted that VAR restricts turns or entrance for residents as well as out-of-area vehicles. In the three- neighborhood area, examples include one-way access to the bridge during rush hour or restrictions on feeder streets such as Grace Church at 16th St. No recommen-dations or preferences were noted.
Geoff Gerhardt, NWCA vice president, asked that MCDOT provide our neighborhoods with a list of traffic mitigation and safety options for our consideration. This was met with audience applause. Mr. Paylor agreed to this request and said he would be meeting with his staff to discuss our suggestions and concerns.
To request a more detailed summary of the meeting, contact the Traffic and Safety Committee.