After several years of struggling with intransigent county highway engineers, District 3 County Councilman Eric Olson has secured approval for a critical safety improvement to the College Park “Trolley Trail” crossing at Paint Branch Parkway. A pedestrian-activated red light (or HAWK Signal) is expected to be installed by the County’s Department of Public Works and Transportation within the next several months. This is a huge step forward in making College Park’s pathway system much safer for cyclists and pedestrians. For several years, safety concerns went unaddressed as the city and county bickered about how to improve the crossing. The curent yellow flashing arrangement causes confusion for motorists and has led to multiple serious accidents.
Fortunately, a change in federal guidelines reframed the debate in late 2009 and the unwavering support of political leaders made the installation possible. Thanks to Eric Olson for his work in addressing this important issue! Below is the official press release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Friday, May 20, 2011
CONTACT: Karen Campbell
COUNTY EXECUTIVE RUSHERN BAKER AND DISTRICT 3 COUNCIL MEMBER ERIC OLSON ANNOUNCE TRAIL CROSSING IMPROVEMENT ON BIKE TO WORK DAY
Busy Paint Branch Parkway Crossing Safer with Pedestrian-Activated Red Light
Today is Bike to Work Day and Prince George’s County Council Member Eric Olson (D) – District 3 and County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III (D) marked the occasion with an announcement that the College Park Trolley Trail Crossing at Paint Branch Parkway will become a safer place for pedestrians and bicyclists in 2011.
Council Member Olson secured funding for placing a pedestrian-activated red light at this location in the Fiscal Year 2011 County Budget. In collaboration with County Executive Baker and the Department of Public Works and Transportation, this improvement is slated for installation in late spring or early summer.
The College Park Trolley Trail, a popular path for commuters (including University of Maryland students and staff), making their way to the nearby College Park Metro station and University of Maryland shuttle bus stop, has been the site of several recent collisions between cars, and pedestrians and bicyclists, prompting many calls from the community to upgrade safety. Recreational users, especially those heading to Lake Artemesia, are also frequent users of the crossing.
Council Member Olson says the new light responds to resident concerns for safety. “We are creating a more sustainable and healthy community by making the pedestrian experience much safer. We have a great and expanding trail system, and every improvement creates more opportunities for walking and bicycling to Metro, employment, and parks among other destinations.”
County Executive Baker agreed. “Improving pedestrian safety in Prince George’s County is a priority. We have had too many auto accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists in the County and we must create better, safer conditions – particularly around our 14 Metro stations, critical to our economic development future.”
The City of College Park is now completing the final phase of the Trolley Trail through the Old Town and Lakeland neighborhoods. The Trolley Trail runs on a former streetcar right-of-way, which at one time ran trolleys into the District of Columbia from the Maryland suburbs before discontinuing service in the early 1960s. The trail runs north and south through College Park, travels through Park and Planning property, runs along Rhode Island Avenue, and includes an off-road city property. Plans call for the trail to continue through Riverdale Park and Hyattsville and connect to the Northwest Branch Trail and the rest of the Anacostia Tributary Trails System.